Jason Garrett stands behind decisions

IRVING, Texas -- With mounting criticism from local and national media regarding his game management skills, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday he wouldn't change anything about how the end of regulation played out on Sunday against Arizona.

The Cowboys wound up losing to the Cardinals, 19-13, in overtime when running back LaRod Stephens-Howling turned a screen pass into a 52-yard touchdown for the game-winning score.

More importantly, with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, Garrett asked rookie kicker Dan Bailey to make a 49-yard field goal, but he was wide-left forcing the game to overtime.

Bailey's miss was the ending of a sequence of events that made the Cowboys looked confused on the sidelines on Sunday afternoon.

"He's been so good in those situations," Garrett said of Bailey, who has made 90 percent of his field goals this season. "He's made four game-winning kicks for us in similar kinds of situations, so the biggest thing that we were trying to do at that point was give him a chance to do that. He's been so good. We've managed those situations in very similar fashion earlier in the year."

Tied at 13-13 late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys mounted a drive that extended to the Arizona 31 when wide receiver Dez Bryant caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Tony Romo with 26 seconds remaining.

The Cowboys rushed to the line of scrimmage but didn't spike the ball until eight seconds remained.

Before spiking the ball, Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis was yelling at Garrett along the sidelines.

When Garrett was asked what DeCamillis was asking him, he said, "I don't have a great answer for you on that, but the biggest thing we have to be aware of, and we talk about it all the time, is what yard line is he able to kick a ball that we feel comfortable in kicking. And we do it in both directions."

Garrett was then asked if he instructed Romo to spike the ball sooner after Bryant made the catch to preserve time on the clock?

"I don't have a great answer for you on that," Garrett said.

When the Cowboys eventually lined up to kick the field goal, DeCamillis and kicking coach Chris Boniol were behind Garrett asking for a timeout, which Garrett did.

The ball was snapped after the whistle was blown and Bailey did make the kick. Garrett said the timeout was used because the play clock was under 10 seconds. After the game, punter/holder Mat McBriar said the kick would have gotten off in time.

But Bailey had to make the kick again, and this time it was wide-left.

"First one felt like I hit it good, obviously it went in," Bailey said Sunday. "We called a timeout, and that's my job to regroup and go back and make the next one and, I didn't do that. No excuses. I should have made it. Just bad circumstances. All I can do is go and kick the next one."

Garrett dismissed the notion he iced his own kicker, which is what Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the game.

"I was glad they iced the kicker there at the end so I didn't have to do it," Whisenhunt said with a smile. "It was a lot of emotion there, but our guys believed."

Garrett's decision not to run the ball to get a few more yards with two timeouts remaining was also interesting.

While the Cowboys struggled to run the ball vs. Arizona, averaging 3.8 yards per carry, they ran the ball only twice in the fourth quarter, gaining 11 yards with DeMarco Murray.

"One of the things they tried to do with their defensive scheme is they blitz a lot," Garrett said of Arizona. "They blitz a lot in passing situations, and they blitz a lot in running situations and we didn't have a lot of long runs in the game. Our longest run was 11 yards and we did have three minus runs and that's what they try and do, they try to disrupt you in the run game. So, I don't know how much that factored into that decision at the time."

Across the league, field goals of 49 yards have been converted 52.2 percent of the time this season.

The Cowboys have to move forward from this loss and take on the New York Giants, a team they're only one-game ahead of in the NFC East, next Sunday.
A victory against Arizona coupled with the Giants loss to Green Bay Sunday would have given the Cowboys a two-game lead.

Instead, Garrett faced questions about his decisions down the stretch in a game the Cowboys could have won.

"We chose to play it this way, and unfortunately, it didn't work out for us this time," Garrett said in a 20-minute news conference. "Hopefully, in the future, it will."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.