This is nothing new.
You know the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three, four, and five times, shame on Jerry Jones for letting a frightened puppy make late-game decisions for eight years.
If you feel like you had seen that movie in a Dallas Cowboys game before, well, it’s because they keep re-making it with slight variations to the plot, and Jason Garrett as the director. That marks the fifth straight time that Dallas has missed a long (45 or more yard) field goal in the final seconds to tie or win a game in regulation. In fact, the only time the Cowboys have successfully made a long field goal in the final seconds to send it to overtime or win was back in Garrett’s 10th game as a head coach, in 2011. He’s coached 117 more since then, and yet keeps chasing that white whale of getting an invigorating long field goal make instead of trying to get closer.
The Dallas Cowboys are 1 for 6 on last second field goal attempts to tie or win it from at least 45 yards away in the final 10 seconds of a game under Jason Garrett.
Here’s a rundown of all the times this has happened:
2011, against San Francisco, trailing by 3. Dallas had 2nd and 3 at the SF 29 with 59 seconds remaining and two timeouts. They ran the ball up the middle for one yard with Tashard Choice then called timeout. On third down, they ran what must have been a reverse, listed as Miles Austin for -2 yards at left tackle, where he fumbled, but the Cowboys recovered. They then called timeout with 4 seconds remaining. Dan Bailey made a 48-yard field goal to send it to OT, and Dallas won when Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley for a 77-yard gain to set up a chip shot.
2011, against Arizona, tie game. Dallas had the ball at the Arizona 46 with 31 seconds left, and had two timeouts remaining. Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant for a 15-yard gain and a first down to the Arizona 31, but Dallas did not use any of their timeouts, spiked the ball with 7 seconds remaining, didn’t run another play, and Dan Bailey missed a 49-yard attempt. Arizona won in OT.
2011, against NY Giants, down by 3. The Giants took a 3-point lead with less than a minute remaining. With no timeouts, Romo got them in a position to tie, when he hit Miles Austin for a 23-yard gain to the New York 29 with 24 seconds left, and Dallas got the ball spiked. Bailey’s 47-yard attempt was blocked.
2012, against Baltimore, trailing by 2. After scoring a touchdown, missing the two-point attempt, and then successfully recovering the onside kick, Dallas got the ball to the Baltimore 34 with 26 seconds left on a pass interference call. They ran one more play from scrimmage, a short 1-yard pass to Dez Bryant, and then called timeout with 6 seconds left. Dan Bailey missed the 51-yard attempt.
2014, against Houston, tie game. Completed a pass to the Houston 37 with 12 seconds left, and one timeout remaining after stopping clock. Ran up the middle with DeMarco Murray for 2 yards, Bailey missed the 53-yard attempt. Dallas won in OT.
2018, against Washington, trailing by 3. Dallas had the ball just outside of field goal range with 52 seconds left and a timeout remaining, and ran two plays, the last one being a short run up the middle to set up the field goal, before calling timeout. After a 5-yard penalty moved it back to a 52-yarder, Brett Maher hit the upright.
In five of the six cases, Dallas had at least one timeout remaining and slow-played it with no sense of urgency to get closer, either taking their time or running the ball before using the final timeout. This post, by the way, is another way to remind you that Tony Romo was really good and might be remembered differently if he played for a coach with any gumption.
To put that failure rate–where conservatism cost Garrett 5 of 6 times–in perspective, the Dallas Cowboys are 3 for 10 in converting 4th downs of longer than 10 yards in Garrett’s tenure. And those are events that cause coaches to fear the gamble.
It’s clear at this point that Garrett’s never gonna change–even after his owner publicly groused about decision making in overtime of the Texans’ loss–and change is going to have to happen without him.