Dallas Cowboys

Five goal-line snaps that ended the Cowboys’ playoff hopes

NFL Referee John Hussey helps Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott up after he was knocked down after a pass.
NFL Referee John Hussey helps Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott up after he was knocked down after a pass. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

The final vision of the Dallas Cowboys 21-12 loss against Seattle (9-6) at AT&T Stadium on a Christmas Eve Sunday night might be five snaps in a late fourth-quarter drive.

The situation has the Cowboys (8-7) trailing 21-12 with a first and goal at the 3 yard line with 7 minutes, 54 seconds left in the game.

The crowd is chanting Zeke! Zeke! Zeke! as in running back Ezekiel Elliott, who returned to the team after a six-game suspension.

On first down, Dak Prescott runs for 1 yard.

“I have that option (to run or pass),” Prescott said. “It wasn’t clean enough to throw it.”

On second down and goal from the 2, Prescott threw a short pass right that fell incomplete. However, tight end Jason Witten was flagged for holding. Time left, 7:15.

On a repeat of second down and goal from the 12, Prescott is sacked. Time left, 7:07.

On third down and goal from the 23, Prescott throws a 7-yard pass to Witten at the 16 that is met with a chorus of boos from fans. Time left, 6:25.

On fourth down, Dan Bailey misses a 34-yard field goal wide right. Time left, 5:39.

“They beat us situationally. We’ve got to get the ball in the end zone,” Prescott said. “I never question the OC (offensive coordinator Scott Linehan). He’s putting the ball in my hands. I have to do a better job.”

And with that, the Cowboys slim playoff hopes evaporate.

“The first-down play was one of those run-pass options. They loaded up the box,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “The second-down play was a play that we liked. Obviously, Zeke is a great player. He played very well today. he’s been very good for us. Those kinds of plays have been very good for us all year long.”

The Cowboys got the ball back once more, but typical of the day, Bailey missed a 48-yard field goal wide right with 1 minute left to play.

Final: Seattle 21, Dallas 12.

“On hindsight, I wish, we all wish that we’d tried Zeke in there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “They were really stacking it up for us. We all understood that. We’ve seen and had a lot of good things happen for us with Dak faking that ball in there and keeping it himself. But at the end, I’d like to have them all back down there and just tried to see what we could do with Zeke all the way up in there. But we all know how that works.”

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