Over and over following Sunday’s 20-19 loss to the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams was apologetic for not following protocol.
A mental gaffe by Williams cost the Cowboys at least a chance at pulling out a season-opening win against the Giants.
Williams, meanwhile, stood in front of his locker and answered question after question on why he didn’t just run out of bounds after making the game’s final catch. That would have put the Cowboys in position for a 57-yard field goal attempt by Dan Bailey.
“I should have just gone out of bounds and just live to the next play,” Williams said. “I should have just followed procedures and should have just gone out of bounds.
“I was just too busy and I’m too much into the game, and it’s just something I should have just followed the rules.”
On the pivotal play in question, Williams caught a 14-yard pass on third-and-10 from rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, giving the Cowboys possession at the Giants’ 40.
The Cowboys had snapped the ball with 12 seconds left in the game, and Williams could have gone out of bounds with about 4 seconds left, thus stopping the clock because Dallas was out of timeouts.
But instead, Williams pivoted back inside, was tackled by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and the clock ran out on the Cowboys.
“I was clearly aware of the time,” Williams said. “It was just something that I was just thinking of, and it was like a bang-bang moment.
“And now that I have a chance to just sit back and think on it, I should have just gone out of bounds. I should have just gone out of bounds and just lived to the next play.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Williams didn’t use good judgment on the game’s final play.
“He needed to get out [of bounds] and he was coached to get out [of bounds],” Jones said. “But he thought he was cut off. Those instincts are hard to deter. But make no mistake about it, he was coached to get out of bounds.”
Bailey, who was 4-for-4 on field goals Sunday, including a career-high tying 56-yarder, was poised to kick what would have been the game-winning field goal. That opportunity never came.
“I think in that situation we’d definitely give it a go, but it’s tough,” said Bailey, who also kicked a 54-yarder against the Giants. “It’s a tough situation with no timeouts. It’s a bang-bang play, and we’ll learn from it.”
Wide receiver Dez Bryant, who only produced one catch for 8 yards, cautioned all not to beat up on Williams for his last-second mental lapse.
“It’s nothing that we can do about it,” Bryant said. “There’s no need to get down or bash him about it. We’ve got to move forward.”
Cornerback Brandon Carr also rushed to Williams’ defense.
“Immediately I ran to him on the field, just told him to keep his head up,” Carr said. “I know what guys go through, I know the situation they’re in.
“That’s a tough spot to be in and to feel like the game was put onto your shoulders and you didn’t get the job done. It’s a learning experience for Terrance — we go through those end of the game situations all the time, but it just made it that much more real.”