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Garrett sticks by Cowboys' conservative approach vs. Pats

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett dared Tom Brady to beat him, and the three-time Super Bowl winner did.

Given a day to think about it, Garrett stuck by his decision to run three times Sunday to try milking the clock with a three-point lead over the New England Patriots, despite his top running back and left guard being on the sideline with injuries.

The Cowboys (2-3) weren't able to get a first down -- in fact, they moved backward -- and wound up giving Brady the ball with enough time to pull off the 32nd fourth-quarter rally of his NFL career in a 20-16 Patriots victory. A Dallas defense that had done a great job against Brady and wide receiver Wes Welker the first 57 minutes finally was picked apart, giving up a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is among those who've criticized Garrett for being too conservative against New England. Funny thing is, it comes one game after Jones questioned why Garrett wasn't more conservative about protecting a 24-point lead in a loss to the Detroit Lions.

Jones and Garrett have discussed it all, of course. Garrett called it "a good conversation."

"I think everyone is well intended," Garrett said Monday. "Everybody is passionate about it, and when you lose a ballgame like that, sometimes things are said, and you've just got to kind of understand what the environment is, process it and move on. We all went up there, and we swung the bat hard against New England. ... We came out on the short end of it. We've got to somehow process that and go forward. We have a great challenge this week against St. Louis."

Perhaps Garrett wasn't second-guessing himself because he expected his players to be able to get the first downs needed to either run out the clock or at least give Brady less time to try pulling off the comeback. Garrett certainly hinted as much.

"We work these situations over and over and over again, in hopes that when we get in those situations, we can execute ball plays to allow us to win," Garrett said. "At the end of this thing, it comes down to execution, and we have to be able to block them, we have to be able to run, we have to be able to throw and catch, we have to be able to tackle, we have to be able to catch the ball on defense, make a play. And as coaches, what we're trying to do is put our players in a position to do that as well as we can."

Garrett mentioned several times about coaches trying to put players in position to succeed and players needing to execute. However, there were other questions about if the best players were put in position to succeed.

For instance, Dallas had two second-half possessions within 20 yards of the New England end zone. Tony Romo threw to running backs DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice, and backup tight end Martellus Bennett, yet never to Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or Jason Witten. The Cowboys settled for field goals both times.

"There are a lot of weapons we'd like to get the ball to down there," Garrett said. "Sometimes you're able to do that. Sometimes you're not. You just got to move on and find the best option to execute the play and give yourself a chance to score points. ... The positive thing is we did come away from each of those drives with field goals to put us ahead in the ballgame. We felt like those were important things to do. We thought Tony managed those situations well."

Notes: Left guard Bill Nagy, a seventh-round draft pick, broke an ankle and almost certainly is out for the season. Undrafted rookie Kevin Kowalski took Nagy's place and could be forced to stay there. ... Veteran guard Derrick Dockery isn't healed from his own broken bone, and coaches don't seem ready to trust fellow rookie David Arkin. Kowalski started two preseason games at center and said he feels comfortable playing either spot. Dallas also could put Kowalski at center and move Phil Costa to guard.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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