ARLINGTON, Texas – Terrance Williams said he realized his mistake right around the time he hit the ground.
The fourth-year wide receiver was tackled for a 14-yard gain at the New York Giants' 40-yard line – with roughly seven seconds remaining and no timeouts. Despite the Cowboys' best efforts to run another play, they never had the chance.
"I think, getting up – that's when it finally hit me, I should've just went out of bounds and lived for the next play," Williams said after the game.
It was a perplexing finish to a perplexing game, and another tough pill to swallow for a team that's dealt with plenty of them.
With 12 seconds to play and no timeouts, Williams caught a short pass from Dak Prescott at the Giants' 48-yard line. With an obvious opportunity to pick up several more yards and go out of bounds, he instead cut the ball up the field, effectively ending the game.
"He obviously just needs to get out of bounds in that situation and give us a chance," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "It was a poor decision his part. We talked to him about that. He understands that."
Given time to reflect on it, Williams said he realized the mistake. But in the heat of the moment, instinct appeared to kick in. With the Cowboys facing a 3rd-and-10, Williams said he wanted to try and pick up the first down before he went out of bounds, but that decision didn't leave him with space – or time.
[embeddedad0]"In my mind, I was trying to make the first guy miss and then dive out of bounds – but it just didn't go as planned. I should've just followed the rules and went out of bounds," he said.
There's no guarantee that stopping the clock would have ensured a victory. Had Williams gotten out of bounds immediately, it likely would have faced Dan Bailey with about a 60-yard field goal attempt – if not longer.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that Bailey connected from 56 and 54 yards earlier in the game.
"Well, we were going to give him a shot," Garrett said. "Obviously the end of game situations change those discussions, so we were going to give him a shot."
It might have been a difficult proposition, even for a Pro Bowl kicker. But it doesn't change the fact that it'll be tough to accept that he didn't get a chance.
"I will spend from this moment forward believing that he would have made it," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
In the meantime, it'll be another difficult six-day wait to make a better impression. To a man, Williams had the support of his teammates and coaches – from Garrett and Jones to Dez Bryant and Sean Lee. With that positive reinforcement, Williams said it won't be hard to block out the criticism created by his misstep.
"Hearing different people talk about me, that's not going to bother me," he said. "Because, at the end of the day, I'm still here. I'm still doing my job, and I'm trying my best to put my team in the best position to win."