Facing a big decision in overtime on Sunday night, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett put his trust in the defense.
On fourth-and-1 on the Houston Texans’ 42-yard line with less than six minutes remaining in overtime, Garrett chose to punt.
“We just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there,” Garrett said. “Chris (Jones) did a great job with the punt, they got the ball on the 10-yard line. Hopefully, you make the stop and win the game, but it went the other way and they got the game-winning field goal.”
Four plays later, Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins used multiple spin moves for a 49-yard catch-and-run that set up a 36-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn, giving Houston a 19-16 win.
Both Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott said they were hoping for a chance to extend the drive.
“I would, but you don’t question the coach’s decision,” Prescott said. “The defense had been playing good all night, and they kept us in the game all night long. Coach made the decision to go with the defense.”
On the previous play, Elliott was stuffed up the middle for no gain on third-and-1.
“I really don’t remember the field position we were in, but obviously, you would like a chance to go for it on fourth-and-1, but I don’t know if that was the best decision right there,” Elliott said.
Elliott was asked if he had the confidence in the offense’s ability to convert a play in that situation.
“For sure, but with the way our defense was playing today, coach Garrett wanted to give them the chance to make a stop and get the ball back,” Elliott said.
Even Texans defensive end J.J. Watt commiserated with Garrett regarding the tough decision, recalling the heat Colts coach Frank Reich took for going for it in a similar situation in an overtime loss to Houston last week.
“If you look at last week, he goes for it on fourth down and gets crushed,” Watt said. “Now, this week, they punted on fourth down, and I’m sure people are going to ask why he did that. If it works, it’s great, and if it doesn’t, it sucks. I’m glad I’m not taking those types of decisions.”
Prescott finished the game 18 of 29 for 208 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Elliott had a season-low 54 rushing yards on 20 carries, his third-lowest game total of his career.
Garrett credited Houston’s defense for Elliott’s lower-than-usual output. He entered Week 5 leading the league with 426 rushing yards in four games.
“They loaded it up in there and did a good job loading up the front,” Garrett said. “We weren’t consistent running the football inside, really throughout the game. I thought our guys battled, they fought, Zeke ran hard, a couple of times, he almost came out of there, but it was not as consistent as we’d like it to be.”
Dallas also struggled with third-down conversions, where they went 4-for-14, and dropped passes, one of which led to an interception.
“We just haven’t gotten it going on offense,” Prescott said. “I don’t know if there’s one thing you can pinpoint, but we’ve got to figure it out. We’re five games into the season, we’ve got a lot of ball left and a lot of time to do it, but it’s got to happen fast, and we’ve got to get better.”
Source: The Associated Press