Anyone who followed the Cowboys during the Barry Switzer regime immediately thought of him when Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from inside his own 30-yard line Sunday night against the Colts. Switzer infamously lost a game in Philadelphia 14 years ago when he called for "Load Left" on fourth-and-1.
Frequent Beast contributor Ed Werder, who also does work for the TV side, caught up with Switzer on Monday evening and turned around an entertaining column for ESPNDallas.com. Of course, anything out of Switzer's mouth is pretty entertaining -- and often profane. Switzer told Werder that he absolutely would not have gone for it on fourth-and-2 if he'd been in Belichick's shoes.
"It's totally different,'' Switzer said. "We had fourth-and-3-inches. If it had been fourth-and-2, we'd have kicked the SOB."
During the 1995 season, the Cowboys and Eagles were tied at 17 when Switzer elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29-yard line. Troy Aikman handed the ball to Emmitt Smith, who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles went on to win the game and Switzer, like Belichick, faced a tremendous amount of criticism. Fortunately for Belichick, he has a few more NFL skins on the wall than Switzer had at the time.
"I know what he's thinking,'' Switzer told Werder. "Belichick is thinking, 'If we make this play right here, we win the ballgame.'
"He didn't want to punt to Peyton Manning. In pro football, two minutes is an eternity, and he's seen the two best quarterbacks in football go up and down the field on each other. When that happens, you're thinking, 'My defense can't stop them, but I know how I can win the game with one play.'"
Switzer actually had a chance to reconsider his decision to go for it against the Eagles. Smith was stopped on fouth-and-1, but the officials ruled that the two-minute warning occurred before the snap. Given the opportunity to change his mind, the Cowboys ran the same play with Smith -- with the same result.
"Everybody thought when you don't get it the first time, you've got to punt it,'' Switzer said. "But what was I going to do at that point, change my mind and basically say, 'I don't believe in you guys?'
"Hell, you're committed at that point.''
In a lot of ways, that play defined Switzer's time with the Cowboys. And it's probably not completely fair -- especially since that '95 team went on to win a Super Bowl. Belichick has enough Super Bowl credibility so that a regular-season loss to the Colts won't damage his legacy.
Strong work by Mr. Werder -- as always.