Garrett takes blame for latest Cowboys' clock problems

IRVING -- Jason Garrett didn't say it just once. He uttered the phrase five times.

"It starts with me," the Dallas 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 game's end.

It happened twice last year in losses to the New York Giants at home and the Cardinals in Arizona.

"You keep working on it and keep learning from it," Garrett said. "... 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.

It left the Cowboys 2-3 instead of 3-2. Since the playoffs went to the current 12-team format in 1990, only 21 percent of teams that started 2-3 made the postseason while 51 percent of 3-2 teams made it.

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick, now an analyst, questioned the Cowboys' use of the final 26 seconds during the Fox game broadcast.

"Wow!" Billick said. "That's a missed opportunity there."

Later, on NBC's Football Night in America, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison broke down the play. They pointed out receivers Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree, who had run vertical routes, at first walking and then jogging back to the huddle as the seconds slipped away. The offensive linemen also seemed in no great hurry to get back to the line, and Bryant argued with an official about the spot.

Austin declined comment, but Ogletree said the situation was discussed in meetings Monday.

"I know that's my job to get there and get to the line," Ogletree said. "I know Miles and I both feel bad about what happened, because we know the outcome. We know we missed the field goal and how close that was and how precious yardage was at the end of the day. So getting back to the line of scrimmage, maybe getting the play called, I think this will all be great for us going forward in learning a lesson."

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. 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