Jason Garrett didn’t lose any sleep over his coaching decisions in the Dallas Cowboys’ 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
The most controversial decision came on the Cowboys’ final offensive possession when quarterback Dak Prescott spiked the ball on first down with 48 seconds left even though the Cowboys had a timeout or could have run a play from the Green Bay 40.
The Cowboys had just completed an 11-yard pass from Prescott to tight end Jason Witten to get into field-goal range but were hoping to score what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. They hurried to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock.
Prescott completed a 7-yard pass to Cole Beasley on second down, and then Prescott’s pass intended for Dez Bryant was batted down by Packers linebacker Nick Perry on third down.
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That forced a 52-yard field-goal attempt by Dan Bailey, which tied the game at 31-31. But it left 35 seconds on the clock, which proved to be enough for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to lead a game-winning field goal drive.
Garrett defended his decision on the spike once again Monday.
“The objective of that drive is to score a touchdown, OK? We’re not trying to kick a field goal there,” Garrett said. “We’re trying to score a touchdown and one of the things we tried to do when we can is to keep a timeout in our back pocket so when we have to kick a field goal you have some freedom at the end of the drive to throw the ball anywhere, to possibly run the ball. It’s better to have a timeout then not have a timeout. So once we got into that position, we felt like the right thing to do on first down was to clock it, but our objective was not to position ourselves to get into field goal range.
“Our objective with that much time on the clock and with a timeout was go score a touchdown and end the game right there. Unfortunately we weren’t able to convert in that third down situation. We had to kick the field goal and that’s how that situation played out. But we were trying to score a touchdown in that situation.”
Still, the Cowboys could have saved their timeout by simply running a set play in that situation. However, Garrett estimated that an additional 10-15 seconds would have run off the clock.
“In those situations if you can you can quiet everything down by saying, ‘OK, let’s take a breath. We’re in great position right now. This is how far we are away from kicking a field goal, these are the objectives we have going forward, this is the time we have on the clock, these are the timeouts we have, let’s go score a touchdown,’” Garrett said. “That’s what we were trying to do there. Unfortunately we weren’t able to convert that third down situation. We did make enough on second down to put us in field goal range and Dan was able to make the kick.”
Garrett went on to say that he felt Bryant was open on third down, but “the ball simply was knocked down.”
Prescott also defended the decision, saying he didn’t second-guess the play. Instead, Prescott simply credited Rodgers for putting together a remarkable drive to end the game.
“He did what he’s done his whole career and made plays,” Prescott said. “Don’t regret any play-calling there, any execution we did. We gave ourselves a chance to win there at the end.”
Garrett also brushed off any possible criticism for how he handled third-and-short situations throughout the game.
On the opening drive of the game, the Cowboys had a third-and-2 from the Packers’ 32 and opted to pass instead of run. Prescott missed Bryant on a deep post as the Cowboys settled for a field goal.
On a third-and-two later in the first half, Prescott scrambled for a first down in leading another field goal drive.
And, as stated, the Cowboys didn’t convert on a third-and-three on their final possession when Prescott’s pass was batted down.
For the game, the Cowboys were 6-for-11 on third down.
“If you look back over the year, we’ve done a good job running the ball on third-and-two, we’ve done a good job throwing the ball on third-and-two,” Garrett said. “There’s some things we like in both areas. ... We did a pretty good job. The one we did miss was the one that got knocked down at the line of scrimmage.”