Jason Garrett uttered the phrase five times: “It starts with me,” the Cowboys coach said Monday.
For the third time in Garrett’s 29 games as head coach, the Cowboys are being second-guessed for mismanaging the clock at the end of a game.
It happened twice last year in losses to the Giants at home and the Cardinals in Arizona.
“You keep working on it and keep learning from it,” said Garrett, now 15-14 in his tenure. “…We’ve had some times where we’ve handled this stuff, really, really well. I think we won four of five games last year in the last second or overtime, in similar type situations, so the idea is to handle them that way every time.”The Cowboys, trailing 31-29, had the ball at the Baltimore 34-yard line with 26 seconds and a timeout remaining after drawing a pass interference penalty. Tony Romo threw a quick pass to Dez Bryant, who was tackled after a 1-yard gain with 22 seconds remaining.
Dallas did not run another play, with Romo instead calling timeout with 6 seconds left. Dan Bailey’s 51-yard field goal, which would have tied his career long, was wide left.
"We had tried to work on these situations a number of different times with our team," Garrett said, "and the biggest thing, the decision we made was the willingness to throw the ball inside, and understanding, 'let's get to our best play and let's be able to use that timeout.' Again, we are on the 34-yard line. The ball we threw to Dez was a play we had gone to a number of different times in a number of different situations. We had converted a third-and-11 earlier in the game with a similar concept. It's a great blitz beater, and it's something we felt good about. They made a play. They tackled him for a 1-yard gain, and we anticipated what we were going to get. They did a good job. We didn’t respond well enough to that situation, getting back quickly enough or using the timeout and changing the circumstances in dealing with that type of situation. So we have to do a better job of that."
The Cowboys intended to spike the ball and stop the clock after the pass to Bryant, who was single covered with no safety help in the middle of the field on a Ravens' blitz. But Garrett now questions his play call, because both Ogletree and Austin were inside the 10-yard line when Bryant was tackled.
“When I look at it, I say we left too much meat on the bone there,” Garrett said. “We needed to get more than 1 yard when we had one timeout and 26 seconds. It starts with the play call that I had, and then it really goes from there. I felt after we were in the situation that we were in, we did the right thing, but we should have gotten more out of that.”
-- Charean Williams