Why Smith's penalty didn't have to happen

IRVING, Texas -- Lost somewhat amid the hubbub surrounding Dez Bryant's sideline actions and Calvin Johnson's on-field actions in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions was the holding penalty by Tyron Smith in the fourth quarter.

Smith was correctly assessed the penalty on Phillip Tanner's run, but according to coach Jason Garrett, Tanner never should have bounced the run to the left. The result put Smith in a bad leverage position, which created the penalty.

After taking over on downs from the Lions with 1:24 to play, the Cowboys ran the ball three straight times to get the Lions to use their final timeouts. Smith's penalty, however, stopped the clock with 1:07 to play.

“I don't want to be critical of a player right here, but the design of the play was to stick it up in there and get what you can get,” Garrett said. “We're on the 35-yard line and you just want to go north and south and handle the situation that way.”

Detroit loaded the line of scrimmage knowing the Cowboys were going to run. Tanner used his instincts to bounce the run and picked up 9 yards. The Lions declined the penalty because time was more important than yards in that scenario.

In the Oct. 6 loss to the Denver Broncos, quarterback Peyton Manning told Knowshon Moreno not to score a touchdown before a third-and-1 run from the Cowboys 2. Moreno picked up the first down and the Broncos were able to kick the game-winning field goal on the final play.

The Cowboys did not instruct Tanner to just barrel his way into the line.

“Certainly you can try to go man for man and tell him exactly what you want him to do but when we design that play from that personnel group that's where that play hits and typically that's where it goes,” Garrett said. “That's why we call it and he instinctively saw some daylight and green grass and bounced the thing all the way back and I think that contributed to the holding penalty.”