Ok folks, all I seem to be reading this week about the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Patriots last Sunday is criticism of Jason Garrett’s play calling, and to a point, I can understand the frustration. But let’s be honest here; if Garrett would have called a pass or two in an attempt to extend that last drive and Tony Romo would have fumbled or thrown a pick, all the same people would be criticizing him right now for not playing it safer.
Writers would be calling for Romo’s replacement and Garrett’s job. You can’t have it both ways – you can’t ask “Why would you have Romo passing in that situation?”, then the next week ask “Wasn’t Romo passing?”
I agree that Jason Garrett really reigned in Romo on that final drive, but given his playing history this season, can you really blame him? Prior to last Sunday, Tony Romo had completely fallen apart in half of the games this season. Sure, Garrett played it safe – but his odds were only 50/50 that Romo could keep it together.
The truth, in my opinion, is that for the first time this season we lost as a team. For every bad Garrett call you throw at me, I can give you another factor that has nothing to do with him playing it overly safe.
Let’s start with Tony Romo himself. Had he not thrown a pick on the first possession, maybe we could been a little further ahead by the end of the game. I’m sure memories of that pick were still fresh in Garrett’s mind during that last Cowboys’ drive.
It should also be remembered that the Cowboys had 10 penalties for 77 yards against New England. One of them, a holding call, negated a pass interference penalty on the Patriots in the end zone. First and goal on the Patriots’ one yard line would have been a nice gift at that point in the game. How about Anthony Spencer, a player who knows better, running into the Patriots’ punter and in doing so kept their offensive drive moving forward? Tyron Smith’s holding penalty with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter stopped the clock and led to a Cowboys’ punt. That penalty was a game changing moment. You don’t give Tom Brady that much time in his own stadium to mount a comeback.
A little bit of the blame should go to the defense too. I think for most the game they did a great job against the Patriots. But really, all they had to do in the Pats’ final drive to victory was tackle a receiver in bounds just one more time and the game would have been over. Just one time . Remember, the Pats won with 22 seconds on the clock. One more tackle in bounds would have kept that clock moving, and they had no time outs left. But the defense let Patriots’ receivers get out of bounds at least three times on that final drive.
All I know is that for the first time this season, the Cowboys lost as a team. And oddly, I see that as a positive thing.