Ellis: Poor Clock Management At End

GLENDALE, Ariz. -Jason Garrett had his reasoning. That doesn't make him right, however.

Any 12-year old with a few games of Madden under his belt would know how to handle the clock situation at the end of Sunday's game. By not calling his second timeout immediately after Dez Bryant caught the 15-yard pass from Tony Romo with roughly 25 seconds left on the clock, Garrett was taking an unnecessary chance.

With another timeout left, he would've been able to run at least one more play, perhaps gaining valuable yardage on a simple handoff. Dan Bailey's try eventually came up only a yard or two short. Since Romo and the offense were over the ball with some 20 seconds left, he truly should've been able to clock the ball, then hand it off to Murray twice.

"We very well could've taken a timeout there," Garrett said. "We just felt like we were in field goal range. We had yardlines that we use as guidelines before the game, and we felt like we were in range at that point. Tony had them on the line of scrimmage quickly, so we just went ahead and clocked it, and used that as a timeout."

Fearing a negative play, Garrett was far too risk-averse in this scenario. Any kicker would want more cushion than Bailey ultimately got.

Bailey said he was making kicks from the upper-50s going both directions during warm-ups. However, he had already missed a long field goal going the same direction as at the end of the game,  from 53 yards out on the second drive of the day, and his second attempt had to bounce off the left upright before sailing through.

Just as bad as not clocking the ball immediately was Romo spiking it with a full seven seconds left on the clock, rather than two or three. Even if Bailey had made the kick, Arizona would have had time for a kickoff return. Instead, they passed up a Hail Mary attempt as regulation ended.

With the play clock running down after the field goal team was on the field, Garrett was right to burn a timeout when he finally did, even if it only served to ice Bailey, essentially.

He was wrong in his handling of the clock overall, however.

Garrett goes to great lengths to emphasize smart situational football. That's what makes it so unfortunate that the Cowboys' loss on Sunday may have been due in some part to a situational mistake by the head coach.

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