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Why Week 1's 4th & 3 "Won't Be The Last Time"


FRISCO, Texas – The desired result wasn't achieved, but it sure seemed like Mike McCarthy was sending a message in the fourth quarter on Sunday night.

And as the guy who called that fateful 4th and 3 play from the Rams' 14-yard line, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore hoped the message was clear.

"Hopefully confidence and it's not going to be the last time," Moore said.

It's a controversial decision. The Cowboys opted to forego a game-tying field goal from close range in favor of trying to convert the fourth down, with an eye on taking a 24-20 fourth quarter lead.

For as much blowback as the decision received on the outside, though, the Cowboys have been in lock step that they liked the decision McCarthy made.

"Gave ourselves an opportunity, an opportunity to potentially take the lead there, and maybe you kick a field goal," Moore said. "But we're building momentum there and it was a great opportunity to potentially take advantage of that."

It became apparent that the Cowboys were considering a fourth down attempt when they opted to hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott on 3rd and 6 just one snap prior. Moore acknowledged that the run game had a favorable look, which might lead to a favorable gain – if not an outright conversion.

"Felt like if we could get it close enough, we're in two-down territory, and, so, went with the run with the ability to throw it out if they were to bring pressure, throw it outside," Moore said. "But it was a nice, clean box. Ran the ball and got it fourth-and-manageable."

Obviously, it wasn't quite manageable enough. Rams safety Jordan Fuller broke through traffic and trucked CeeDee Lamb just as he caught a crossing route from Dak Prescott, and the drive was snuffed out. The pass could have been better thrown, and Lamb could have run his route a bit deeper – both teaching points for the future.

"I think the guy made a phenomenal play on defense, and obviously something we can learn from, grow from," Moore said.

It's one thing for the play caller to want more opportunities to call plays, but even the guys who stand to benefit the most from a field goal – the Cowboys' special teamers – seemed to be on board.

"I would say, 'Hell yeah' 100% of the time, and I'm not just saying that because he's my boss," said special teams coordinator John Fassel. "You have the opportunity on 4th-and-2 or 3 and you're down inside the 10-yard line. You'll think I'm just saying this, but I believed in the call 100%."

Not everyone will agree with that thought process – and the Cowboys assuredly won't go for it every time their inside the red zone. But it certainly sounds like it could be a theme for the future, and the Cowboys' coaches sound just fine with that.

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