BALTIMORE – Kicker Dan Bailey had been perfect throughout 2012, and might've stayed that way Sunday if his potentially game-winning kick at the end wasn't a challenging 51-yarder.
As it was, the Cowboys had an opportunity to get Bailey a closer look, but didn't take advantage and fell to the Ravens 31-29 when his long attempt sailed wide left. The Cowboys were unable to get an additional play off in the closing sequence, letting some 15 seconds slip off the clock after the last play from scrimmage until finally calling a timeout, the situation and the poor result a disappointing reminder of a similar situation in a loss at Arizona last season.
In each circumstance, head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo were left with plenty of questions to answer. In last December's scenario, their defense was that the risk of a negative play wasn't worth taking since they were already on the edge of field goal range. This time, the claim is that time just wasn't on their side.
Both this bad break and that in 2011 came after Romo-to-Dez Bryant completions.
"We had the one time out, so we had the ability to throw the ball inside," Garrett said. "Tony was going to get them on the ball as quickly as he could, knowing that we had that one in our hip pocket, and try to get a play run, knowing that we could throw the ball anywhere we wanted with the timeout. It just took too long for everybody to get un-piled. It got down to the single digits, so we said 'take it down to four seconds and bang the timeout."
Bryant was pushed backward by a Ravens defender after his forward progress was stopped, and actually took a couple seconds to make a plea to the nearest official rather than line up, while some offensive linemen walked to the ball. Rather than spike it as soon as possible or immediately run another play, the offense got set and simply let crucial seconds tick away.
Though the result wasn't favorable, neither Garrett nor Romo expressed disappointment with their choice of clock management.
"It took a long time to get us into formation for the play we wanted to get into," Romo said. "Once it got below a certain point, it was not in our best interest to run another play. … those extra six or seven seconds are what made the difference to run another a play. It was just too risky."
In the end, the Cowboys were well within Bailey's range, but he couldn't keep the ball straight.
"(Wind) obviously plays a factor when it's blowing as hard as it was today," Bailey said. "It just boils down to me missing the kick. It's my job to go out there and make it in that situation, and I didn't. It's unfortunate, but it happens. You miss kicks."