Cowboys pass on letting Broncos score touchdown to save time

Posted Sunday, Oct. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Dallas Cowboys decided against conceding a touchdown in the last 2 minutes of the game because they thought they could still hold Denver to a field goal.

Facing third-and-1 from the 2-yard line, with one timeout left and 1:40 remaining, the Cowboys decided to try to prevent the first down — at the risk of allowing a first down that would give Denver four new downs, more than enough to run out the rest of the clock and leave only enough time for a game-winning field goal.

That is exactly the way the game played out.

Knowshon Moreno barely picked up what he needed for the first down, then quarterback Peyton Manning took two snaps to position the ball for Matt Prater’s game-winning kick from 28 yards out.

“I was like, ‘Let’s see how close I can get without going in,’” Moreno said.

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said the call never came in to let the Broncos score.

“On third-and-1, you have to go for the stop,” he said.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he did think about allowing the score.

“If you get a stop there, they kick the field goal and you give yourself a much better chance to tie the football game coming back,” he said. “If you give them the opportunity to go score a touchdown right there, and kind of give up, you do give yourself a chance to go back and score a touchdown. But again, you have no timeouts and all that. So you weigh those out. We decided to try to make the stop on third down, and they made it by about an inch.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said a touchdown would be giving up too much.

“That’s cutting it pretty close,” he said. “We were sitting up there in that back-and-forth ourselves, talking about it, but we held out for the hopes that we might have a little time, something might happen. The worst thing was the first down.”

Claiborne emotional

Morris Claiborne, who had a fumble recovery and an interception, said it was an emotional game for him because of the tough week he had.

“It was very emotional,” he said. “Just all the things I’ve been going through, period. To come out and get an interception and recover a fumble … but it still wasn’t enough.”

Claiborne, who lost his starting job on the outside to slot corner Orlando Scandrick, was criticized for soft coverage in the San Diego game and has also been playing with a shoulder injury. Jason Garrett said last week that Claiborne was playing with low confidence and poor technique.

“It felt good,” Claiborne said, asked if the interception redeemed him. “It gave us another chance to go get points.”

Claiborne described his interception.

“I was bailing out. They kind of bunched up on us, trying to just run guys free,” he said. “I kind of like bailed off, just got to a third. The light was shining. I don’t think he saw it, ’cause I couldn’t see it at first. The ball just fell in my hand.”

Yardage allowed

The Cowboys have allowed more than 500 yards in back-to-back games. After the Chargers rolled to 506 against the Cowboys last week, Denver had 517.

Dallas allowed the most yards in team history last season, but it is on pace to allow even more this year.

The Broncos’ 51 points were the third most the Cowboys have allowed in their history. They gave up 54 to Minnesota in 1970 and 52 to St. Louis in 1962.

Escobar takes blame

Tony Romo tried to hit rookie tight end Gavin Escobar on a seam route on the interception that the Broncos turned into the game-winning field goal. Escobar blamed himself for not running a better route, though Romo said he didn’t get enough on the ball because of pressure.

“I probably should’ve flattened it off more, be more friendly to the quarterback,” Escobar said. “… When I saw it coming out, I was trying to break it up.”

Escobar caught a pass for 25 yards in the first quarter on the same route.


• Defensive end DeMarcus Ware had to go to the locker room during the game to have an IV for cramps. Guard Ron Leary also was cramping.

• X-rays on safety Barry Church’s nose revealed a fracture. He returned.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez

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