ARLINGTON, Texas -- After James Hanna's first career touchdown, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett quickly held up two fingers to signal to his team to forego the point-after attempt with 7:11 to play and trailing 32-30.
Little did Garrett know the Cowboys would get three cracks at a 2-point conversion. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they converted none of them.
The first chance was the best chance.
After Ezekiel Elliott motioned wide to the right to give the Cowboys an empty set, the Rams left the middle of the field wide open for Dak Prescott to run in on a keeper.
But All-Pro center Travis Frederick was called for holding Tanzel Smart, nullifying Prescott’s game-tying dive into the end zone. On the television broadcast, Fox’s Daryl Johnston said it was a terrible call. After the game, Garrett wasn’t sure if it was the proper call or not. However, Frederick’s left hand was on the outside of Smart’s shoulder.
It was the sixth holding penalty of Frederick’s career and the first since Week 8 of the 2016 season.
“The first one was an easy, walk-in touchdown,” Prescott said.
The Cowboys’ second chance was moved back to the 12. With Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to his left and Jason Witten and Terrance Williams to his right, Prescott scrambled a little early and found himself about to get smacked so he flung the ball toward the end zone in desperation. Mark Barron intercepted the pass, but Kayvon Webster was flagged for a hold on Williams.
With the ball now at the 7, the Cowboys went with a three-by-one set with Bryant wide to the left and Witten, Williams and Beasley to the right. The Rams went with a zone blitz and linebacker Alec Ogletree was able to slip between Jonathan Cooper, Frederick and eventually Elliott to force Prescott to scramble to the right.
His pass to Williams was grazed by Barron just enough to disrupt the receiver’s concentration and leave the Cowboys trailing by 2 points.
Garrett had no regrets going for two, and considering how much the offense struggled in the second half it was the proper call.
“We just felt that with that much time in the game, it was just important to go for two there,” Garrett said. “I’m not so sure what we were going to get out going for one and making it a one-point game. We felt pretty confident that was the right decision. We had a play that we liked and we executed it. I didn’t get a chance to see what the penalty was, but once that happened you just have to battle, and it made sense for us to continue to go for two even from the 12-yard line. We got a break for a chance to go from the 7. I have not been involved in many of those sequences before, but the biggest thing is you keep putting the last play behind you, and focus on this play and try to execute.”