- Winning in the NFL is very hard, and when the opportunity presents itself, every head coach must maximize that opportunity by making good decisions. In this game, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett did not do that.
- Trailing 28-24 with 9:56 left in the game, the Cowboys executed an excellent drive to where they had a 2nd and 2 on the Packer 11 with 1:24 left in the game. The Packers had only 1 timeout left; the Cowboys had 2. And to this point in the drive, Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott was running very well and in rhythm with his offensive line. The Packers defense had been on the field a long time.
- 1:24 and 2 timeouts is a lot of resources to try and score a winning TD from the 11. And one other important thing to manage is taking as much time off the clock so in the event you do score, you leave the Packers with very little time to mount a comeback of their own. In short, there was ample time and timeout resources for the Cowboys to burn more clock in an effort to gain a first down and force the Packers to burn their final timeout – doing this would reduce the offensive play options for the Packers should the Cowboys go ahead. The worst option, we felt, was to call a low percentage offensive play that also had the potential to stop the clock.
- But this is precisely what the Cowboys did; they had Prescott attempt a low percentage pass to WR Dez Bryant. The Cowboys ultimately scored on the next play on a run by Prescott to go ahead 31-28, but they left the Packers with 1:13 and a timeout with which to try and score a go-ahead TD…which is precisely what they did. And this was made easier by the fact that they still possessed one timeout; which left any playcall to the middle of the field available to the Packers.
- One other clock item to note with respect to Cowboys Head Coach Garrett: in the 3rd quarter, he burned a timeout when their FG unit was late onto the field as the Packers lined up for a 22 yard try – which is very short obviously. The more prudent decision, we believe, would have been to let the Packers attempt the try from 22 yards with only 10 Cowboys on the field – the likelihood of that 11th man making a difference on the FG attempt from 22 yards is remote. It could be argued the Packers might have tried to fake the FG on the 4th & 4 if they would have noticed only 10 defenders on the field; but we also feel this was unlikely as the Packers were nearly ready to execute the kick when the timeout was called.
- Both teams had trouble adjusting on defense. Packers RB Aaron Jones had a career day running to the open side of the formation, and the Cowboys never adjusted. And because Jones was successful running the ball, the Packers play pass options were expanded. Now this may have been a deliberate plan by the Cowboys (i.e., “we’d rather have a backup running back try to beat us than Rodgers”), but by allowing so much success on the ground for the Packers, the Cowboys also allowed the Packers to use their entire playbook.
- Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy had some difficulty with clock management and play calling with respect to 2 point PAT decisions. While up 28-24 but with the Cowboys driving and with momentum and only 2:23 left in the game, he burned a timeout with a poor challenge of a first down spot. The replay clearly didn’t favor the Packers, but McCarthy made the challenge in any event…and this was on top of burning another timeout earlier in the drive with approximately 6:24 left in the game on the same drive. Finally, we question his call for a failed 2 point PAT try up 28-24 with 9:56 left in the game. We felt it would have been more prudent to kick the point, and be ahead 29-24 as there was nearly 10 minutes left in the game, and it was very possible for the Packers to take a 2 score lead with just another FG. Also, by bypassing the kick and leaving the score 28-24, a Cowboys TD would leave any resulting Packers FG as only a tying score, not a winning score. This was rendered moot by the Packers scoring a TD, but notwithstanding this, we felt the 2 point PAT try at this juncture was a poor decision.