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Eatman: Why It's Called 'Running' Out the Clock


JACKSONVILLE – Wow, where do we start with this one?

Then again, does it even matter about the start? Apparently not on this day. The Cowboys couldn't have started out any better, building a 14-0 lead, eventually going up by 17 points … only to have it come crashing down at the end.

If you felt like you've seen this one before, you pretty much did about a month ago when the Cowboys blew the lead in Green Bay and lost in overtime.

But why does this one hurt even worse? Well, it's because it's not Aaron Rodgers lining up on the other side, and it's not historic Lambeau Field.

No, you lost to Trevor Lawrence in a place called Jacksonville in a stadium that sounded like a home game. And not only that, you were up with a stranglehold on the game.

Forget the numbers: 14, the amount they were up at the half; or even 17, the lead they had in the third quarter.

The number that sticks out to me is 10. And I'm talking about yards. You needed TEN yards to go win this game. And I get it, you're not going to be as wide open with the play calls because you're trying to run out the clock.

Well, I think that's what they were doing.

Isn't that what's it called? RUNNING OUT THE CLOCK? I've never actually heard anyone say, "Hey, we've got a lead here. All we need to do is pass out the clock and we'll win."

Yet, the Cowboys chose not to "run" out the clock – or at least make the Jaguars run out of timeouts.

That's all they had to do and I think they win this game, 34-31, in regulation.

It's third-and-10 at the Dallas 38-yard line – just two plays after they came up with a huge fumble on Lawrence in the open field. The Cowboys ran it twice for a total of no yards, but the Jags burned their first two timeouts.

But why? Why get cute and try to go win the game with a deep ball to Noah Brown. Sure, Brown had a big day – to that point – with two touchdown catches, but I don't think I'd want to throw it to Randy Moss at that point in the game.

To me, this is another example of why I never agree with the term "play to win the game" vs. "playing not to lose." I've said it 100 times and I'll say it 100 more. To me, those are the exact same things. You're either playing to win or playing not to lose based on how aggressive you are from time to time.

But at that time, it's not about throwing the ball deep to Brown on a 50-50 ball hoping they call pass interference, which they really didn't call much all game long.

Just run the ball again. It doesn't have to be up the middle. It could be something with a stretch play to Tony Pollard where he might get loose and break one. Just keep the clock going and force a timeout.

The Jaguars would've gotten the ball with about 1:00 to play and needing 30-40 yards for the field goal. But everything is different when you have no timeouts.

You don't try as many crossing routes and you seemingly have to force the ball to the sideline. What that does is keeps it all short and makes it much, much harder to nickel-and-dime your way down the field.

And what happened? The Jags held onto that timeout until the very end, using it after a pass to Zay Jones over the middle to set up the game-tying field goal.

Sure, we can talk about Dak Prescott's interception in the third quarter that led to a game-changing touchdown by the Jags. Or the final pass of the game that bounced off of Brown and into the hands of Rayshawn Jenkins for the touchdown. I mean, they probably would've lost anyway on a field goal, but I guess block-in-the-back isn't called in overtime. Seemed like Dak got a nice little shove in the back into the bench area.

But the Cowboys had their chances to win this game – like 20 of them – and didn't take advantage.

They really only have themselves to blame for this debacle in the second half. And the thing is, they didn't just lose the game in the second half or overtime, but little moments along the way.

The ironic part of this game to me is that they got a little conservative in the third quarter and settled for field goals. But with the game on the line, when they needed to get the Jags out of timeouts, they chose to be overly aggressive and it cost them.

Yes, the Cowboys lost the game on the final play. But it was too many plays throughout the game that led to this ugly finish.

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