The Dallas Cowboys overcame a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to send their Week 16 matchup against the New Orleans Saints to overtime, but that was entirely because of the heroic effort shown by the players. After a solid stretch of games (all wins), Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reverted back to his awful, trigger-happy offensive play-calling ways and fell right into the Saints trap in a 34-31 loss. The result? Dallas has one shot to get into the playoffs–an NFC East title game on the road against the red-hot Washington Redskins in Week 17.
During the time Tony Romo has been the Cowboys’ quarterback and Garrett has been the offensive coordinator, Dallas is now 1-14 when Romo throws 40 or more passes after the loss to the Saints. Likewise, the Cowboys are 8-0 when running back DeMarco Murray receives 20 or more carries, but he only received 11 against New Orleans.
Now NFL games are decided by much more than patterns and statistics, but the point is clear: The Cowboys are much better when their offensive game plan is balanced.
Dallas started the game with four passes and one run, an eight-yarder by Murray. After the fourth pass, the Cowboys faced third and three and guess what Garrett called. That’s right! And the result was a sack of Romo. Why in the world would the Cowboys not run the ball in that situation? There’s no logical reason why they wouldn’t and that call set the tone for the game.
Near the end of the third quarter, Dallas got the ball at its own 20 after a Saints touchdown and Garrett called five straight passes. The result? A punt and another New Orleans touchdown. Shocking, I know.
Now at this point, the Cowboys are down by 14 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Even then, there was no reason to abandon a running back who was absolutely slashing through the woeful Saints defense yet that’s exactly what Garrett did. Naturally, six straight passes resulted in yet another punt. Do you think the Saints knew what was coming? Not really tough to figure out.
Somehow, Romo took things into his own hands and overcame Garrett’s horrific decisions to tie the game with 15 seconds to play. As luck would have it, the Cowboys got the ball first in overtime. This was Garrett’s chance to redeem himself by riding Murray to a big victory, but naturally he blew it. Dallas ran four offensive plays in overtime and only one was a carry by Murray. That’s all she wrote.
Garrett has had far too many chances to wake up and smell the locker room air freshener, but he just can’t figure it out (how the heck did this guy get through Princeton?). If Jerry Jones doesn’t fire him or find someone else to call the offensive plays, the Cowboys are doomed to mediocrity for the remainder of the Romo era.
By the way, the Redskins have won six straight and they lit up the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in another Garrett masterpiece. Yeah, next week is going to be fun. Merry friggin’ Christmas, Dallas.