Situational football is something that Jason Garrett preaches on a daily basis. And it’s something the Dallas Cowboys are struggling with of late.
The offense, in particular, is having a difficult time on third downs. They are 2 of 20 on third down over the past two games, including a dreadful 1 of 11 against the Packers on Sunday.
They came up a yard short of a first down three times on Sunday.
“Obviously third downs were not very good and they got us off the field too much,” Garrett said. “I thought we had some opportunities just to throw and catch and we didn’t convert to keep drives alive.”
The most troubling part of the Cowboys’ third-down issues are on the third-and-short. They are a league-worst 7 of 18 on third-and-ones this season.
It happened again Sunday when running back Robert Turbin was stuffed for no gain on a third-and-one from the Dallas 10 to open the second quarter. That three-and-out gave the Packers great field position – they took over on the Dallas 48 – and it led to the Packers’ first touchdown of the game.
“You’ve got to capitalize there [on third down],” tight end Jason Witten said. “I don’t know what the situation was but we couldn’t get it going on third down. We couldn’t make those plays.
“We haven’t been good there [on third-and-short]. Ultimately, you’re costing yourself possessions, and you’re not going to win when you can’t capitalize in those situations.”
The Cowboys third-down issues caught up with them later in the game, as well. They had two three-and-outs later in the game, which wasted stands by the defense and wore them out in the long run.
“It was a frustrating night for us offensively. Obviously, we didn’t convert on third down,” quarterback Matt Cassel said. “We have to give credit to where credit is due. They came out and played a lot of man coverage and we weren’t able to convert, and when we did complete those balls we weren’t able to get those first downs and keep our defense off the field.
“It was a frustrating night in terms of the passing game.”