Jason Garrett explains clock management crisis

GLENDALE, Ariz. – What the heck happened with the Cowboys’ clock management at the end of regulation?

The Cowboys had two timeouts remaining when Dez Bryant caught a pass for a first down at the Arizona 31-yard line with 26 seconds remaining. They kept one timeout in their pocket. Head coach Jason Garrett essentially iced his own kicker by using the other with seven seconds remaining.

Garrett said that he wanted to make sure that the Cowboys’ field goal unit was settled before Dan Bailey’s potential game-winning 49-yard attempt. He was concerned that the play clock was running down. That explains why he called that timeout.

Why didn’t he call a timeout to try to run at least another play or two? That was the burning question after Bailey missed and the Cardinals beat the Cowboys in overtime?

“We very well could have taken a timeout there,” Garrett said. “We felt like we were in field goal range. We have yard lines that we use as guidelines before the game. We felt like we were in range at that point. Tony [Romo] had them on the line of scrimmage quickly, so we went ahead and clocked it and used that as a timeout. …

“You see so many situations where you have negative plays in those situations. We felt like we were in his range to give him a chance to kick the game-winner.”

Owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who criticized Garrett for conservative play-calling after a close loss to the Patriots in October, refrained from offering his opinion on the clock management at the end of this game.

“My understanding is, the explanation I got is it was to let time run off the clock,” Jones said. “I’m not going to agree or disagree right here. But the point is it was to let time run off the clock.”

To settle for a 49-yard field goal attempt by a rookie kicker?!

“Just a minute, I’m just telling you what my understanding is,” Jones said with a sense of agitation.

Asked about the situation again later, Jones said, “We had an alternative. We could have run two, possibly three more plays there, but we have a lot of confidence in that kicker. It didn’t work. We all would have liked to have had 20 more yards. But that’s really speculating as to what we’d have done with the ball.”

Garrett expressed no regret about the decisions he made in the final 25 seconds of the fourth quarter.

“Well, we felt pretty good about where we were,” Garrett said. “Once you get to that 30-yard line we felt like that was a pretty good opportunity for us.”

It actually was good enough on Bailey’s attempt from 49. Too bad that one didn’t count because of the timeout that Garrett called.