FOXBORO -- Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is often criticized for his conservative decision-making, and his unwillingness to test the New England Patriots defense late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Week 12 game at Gillette Stadium might have cost his team a win.
The Cowboys had a 4th-and-7 at the Patriots' 11-yard line with 6:04 remaining in the game, and instead of taking a chance and going for the first down or touchdown, Garrett called on the field goal unit. Brett Maher converted a 29-yard field goal to trim New England's lead to 13-9. The Cowboys never got inside the Patriots' half of the field again and ultimately lost by that 13-9 scoreline.
Garrett tried to explain his decision to kick the field goal after the game.
Yeah, just to give us a chance coming back the other way, 4th-and-7," Garrett said. "You know, make it a four-point game. They go ahead and kick a field goal coming back, you still have a chance to be in the game. We would get it back with just under three, with a chance to go win it. So just felt good about that decision, at that time.
In most situations, kicking a field goal in that spot is the right choice, but Sunday was no ordinary instance. The weather was brutal, with rain and wind making it difficult to throw the ball (Tom Brady and Dak Prescott combined for just 402 passing yards) and kick (there were three missed field goals between the teams).
The Cowboys also had enormous trouble moving the ball versus a Patriots defense that might be the best unit in the league. Dallas had three second-half drives before the series where Garrett kicked a field goal, and all of those series ended in punts. In fact, the Cowboys never crossed misfield in the second half.
There was nothing to suggest the Cowboys were capable of moving back down the field and scoring the go-ahead touchdown, which made Garrett's decision to kick that 29-yard field goal absolutely baffling. It was just another example of the massive coaching mismatch on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium.
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