Has there ever been a more frustrating final drive of a game than the one the Cowboys put together on Thanksgiving?
The team acted like throwing the ball more than five yards down the field violated some part of the Geneva Convention and got the end they deserved when David Buehler's 59-yard field goal tailed wide. If the team could have moved the ball five yards further down the field, the kick looked like it would have been good and overtime could have extended the Cowboys winning streak to three games.
You can't win if you don't try, though, and the Cowboys offense refused to take risks all day. That's not been the case since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, mostly because it meant Jason Garrett the offensive coordinator didn't have to rein in any of his impulses after review by the rest of the coaching staff. They played with the abandon of a team that knew it had nothing to lose by throwing everything at the wall and it paid off.
So what happened against the Saints? The abandon was replaced by a tension that only grew every time Jon Kitna checked down to another receiver instead of putting some air under the ball. It wasn't like bolder notions were becoming turnovers or other blunders. The one gutsy call of the game, the end around to Miles Austin, turned into the only big play of the game that didn't end with Roy Williams giggling on the bench after a fumble, but when the game was in the balance Garrett went small and dealt his chances at the permanent job a blow.
Unless, of course, Garrett wanted to go big and Kitna refused to go along with the plan. That seemed like a possibility on three passes to Dez Bryant in the second half. Kitna threw well behind Bryant twice and bounced a third pass about six yards in front of him. Bryant was testy all night and had some words with Kitna, but it still seems like a stretch that the quarterback would intentionally sabotage the game.
No more ridiculous than the head coach doing it, though. It's hard to totally put that absurd conspiracy theory to rest after a game plan that didn't include any downfield shots to the receiver who's been the best thing about the offense all season. Garrett obviously wasn't trying to throw the game, but he didn't make it nearly clear enough that he was trying to win it either.
That's usually enough to get an offensive coordinator fired. Thankfully for Garrett, he's got an in with the head coach.
Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Foll ow NBC DFW Sports on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe to this free service.Read more about it here.