Why Are You Running Late?

Can we talk about the playcalling late in the game Sunday? Because that was ridiculous. I know the Cowboys defense had played a brilliant game up to that final New England drive, and I can see why Jason Garrett would want to show a little faith in them, but seriously: WHY ARE YOU RUNNING THE BALL?

Let's take a closer look at the situation: It was a 16-13 game. There was 3:36 left on the clock. The Patriots had all their timeouts left (of course they did, because they're so freakin' perfect RETCH). In that instance, there is NO reason to run the ball three straight times and try and milk the clock. None. There may as well have been 13 minutes left on the clock instead of three, because you can't sit on the ball against New England in that situation. Maybe you run the ball on first down and see if you can get lucky with a cheap 10-yard pickup, but after that? You HAVE to try aggressively for that first down.

But what did Jason Garrett do? Two straight runs, then the requisite Cowboys late-game penalty, then a draw play. That was idiotic. If that had happened in Cowboys Stadium, every would have booed before being distracted by the cage dancers. I know Tony Romo's penchant for throwing backbreaking picks in that kind of situation, and certainly that lingered in Garrett's mind as he dialed DeMarco Murray's number during the most crucial stretch of the game. But if you can't trust your QB in that kind of situation, why even bother playing him? You knew the second Garrett called those first two runs that Tom Brady would get the ball back and march straight down the field, and that's precisely what he did, leaving the Cowboys with virtually no time left to try and answer.

The shame of it is that the Cowboys played brilliantly Sunday, particularly on defense. They harassed Brady virtually all game long and, at long last, made the Pats offense look pedestrian. That defense deserved better than to be thrown at Brady's mercy with 2:31 left on the clock. It's asking too much of them to essentially give up your penultimate offensive possession and demand they stop Brady one final time. Sooner or later, Brady gets his, and Jason Garrett ignored that inevitability. We've ragged on Garrett for not emphasizing the run enough, and here he goes and does it at the exact wrong time. It was a horrible play-calling sequence, and it's a reminder that Garrett is still growing into this job.

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