The Dallas Cowboys were 10 yards away from field-goal position, 42 yards from victory in their in-state rival's building -- and they punted.
On the first drive of overtime on Sunday night, faced with a fourth-and-1 on Houston's 42-yard line, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sent out the punting unit instead of opting to go for it. The Houston Texas marched down the field on the ensuing drive and kicked the game-winning field goal, knocking off Dallas, 19-16.
After Dallas' third defeat of the season, Garrett defended his decision to punt the ball back to Houston with such favorable field position.
"Yeah, it was a long one [yard]," the Cowboys coach told reporters. "You know, we had a third-and-2 and we didn't make much on it and we just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there. Chris [Jones] did a great job with the punt. They got the ball on the 10-yard line and hopefully you make a stop and you win the game coming back the other way with a game-winning field goal."
"We were being outplayed," he told reporters after the game, via the team's official website. It's time for risks at that particular time."
"Yeah, I mean, I would, but I don't question the coach's decision," Prescott told reporters. "The defense had been playing good all night. They kept us in the game a bunch of the game, from the second quarter, then in the fourth quarter. They gave us chances all day long. I mean, coach made the decision to go with the defense, so..."
As Prescott said, Garrett was right to have confidence in his defense, which had produced either a punt or turnover on five of its seven second-half drives. But should he have trusted his offense more to pick up one measly yard?
In a similar situation in the second quarter -- fourth-and-1 from Houston's 41 -- Prescott picked up a first down with a two-yard QB sneak. Plus, Dallas entered Sunday with the league's leading rusher in Elliott, who is more than capable.
One week after the football world questioned Colts coach Frank Reich's decision-making for attempting an overtime fourth-down conversion on *their side *of the 50-yard line, Garrett will be similarly scrutinized for showing less cajones with more leverage. Different strokes.