Ellis: The Real Problem Sunday? Just 13 Points

IRVING, Texas -Tired of hearing about all this yet?

It's as if the final 25 seconds of regulation on Sunday were all that happened in the entire game. The reality is, the Cowboys shouldn't have been in position to need a two-minute drill at the end of the fourth quarter.

Against a Cardinals defense ranked 25th in yards per game and tied for 19th in points allowed, the Cowboys should've not have had to rest their hopes on any kind of Dan Bailey kick at the end. There may be some gray area in Jason Garrett's decision-making process at the end of the game, but there is no reason the Cowboys should've been limited to only 13 points. No way to justify it.

Garrett and Tony Romo and Jerry Jones can credit the Cardinals all they want, but the Cowboys should've had an answer for their blitzes more often than they did. Romo was sacked five times, and a stacked box limited DeMarco Murray to only 38 yards.

It only makes sense that the failure of the offense throughout the game influenced Garrett's thinking at the end. Either he lacked confidence in himself to call one or two positive plays, or didn't trust the offensive players to execute anything.

"We had five sakcs in the game, we had three negative runs, we had a couple of pre-snap penalties that negatively impacted it," Garrett said. "A lot of people say those are eight plays in the game, but the way we try to present it to our team - and I think it's a valid way to look at it - is if you have 11 possessions in a game and you spread those negative plays out . . . you're invariably try to overcome a second-and-13, second-and-15, third-and-16, third-and-11.

"Those are the kind of things that bog you down."

The biggest crime of the day was when Felix Jones returned a first-quarter kickoff to the Arizona 35-yard line, and the offense had to punt. Romo was sacked on first down when linebacker Paris Lenon blitzed between the guard and center and DeMarco Murray failed to pick him up. In the two plays afterward, the offense could only get back to the original line of scrimmage.

On the day, Mat McBriar had to punt from inside Arizona territory four times.

"Their style of defense is to try to disrupt you," Garrett said. They try to pressure you in different ways. They try to run blitz you a lot of different ways. At times, we did a very good job of handling that. At other times we didn't, and it created some minus plays for us, got us out of rhythm and prevented us from having a chance to score some more points."

As Garrett said yesterday, the Cardinals defensive approach is very similar to that of Washington and Miami. In those two wins, the Cowboys didn't shoot themselves in the foot so often, they stuck to the run, and Romo was able to save plays in the pocket with some miracle footwork.

It didn't happen this time, which was a 60-minute problem, not just a 25-second problem.

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