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If you didn’t watch the game and you just saw that the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore by the score of 31-29, you might be impressed with Dallas. “Wow, that was a close game. They can hang their hat on that one.”
And yet, the Cowboys lost the game in the most “Cowboys” possible way. Down by eight points in the final minutes, Dallas mounted a drive that resulted in an easy Tony Romo touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. On the two-point conversion, they ran almost the exact same play. Brilliant move. Teams rarely see that coming. Bryant, despite the ball hitting him in both hands, dropped the ball.
Dallas has to go for an onside kick and, miraculously, they recovered the kick. A defensive pass interference on the next play moved the ball all the way down to the 34 yard line… and that’s where things went south.
Tony Romo completed a short, one yard pass to Dez Bryant. Since he was in bounds, the clock continued to roll. Within reason, Dallas could have called timeout with 20 seconds left on the clock. Even if they had gained just 5-10 yards on a run or pass, they would have still had time to spike the ball and set up for a closer field goal.
Instead, Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett let the clock wind all the way down to six seconds before calling the final timeout. Given the difficult nature of a game-winning field goal on the road for a kick with a length of 51 yards, you’d think Dallas would want to get a little bit closer. Especially since there was more than 20 seconds left on the clock when the previous play ended.
To the surprise of no one, Dan Bailey missed the field goal and the Ravens escaped with a win despite every effort to give the game away to Dallas.
The Cowboys averaged better than five yards per carry. 227 yards rushing! That doesn’t happen to the Ravens in Baltimore. Tony Romo played pretty well. He was only sacked once. Despite Dez Bryant’s drop on the two-point conversion, he caught almost every other pass thrown his way, as did most of the receivers.
The Dallas defense played pretty well, holding both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice below their season yardage averages. Take away the special teams touchdown and the Baltimore offense only scored 24 points.
This game was lost because of poor game and clock management, not to mention poor awareness by Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett, neither of whom were prepared to take a timeout to run another play and maybe two after being given the gift of recovering an onside kick and then a penalty to move the ball all the way to the 34 yard line.
It goes to show that it doesn’t matter how many yards the offense gains or how many stops the defense gets. A championship-caliber coach and quarterback are smarter in those situations. And over and over, Garrett and Romo are proving that they can’t get it done.
This coming from a Romo defender: it may be time to move on, for both of them.