In an interview to air Sunday night on NBC, Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said coach Jason Garrett apologized to the team for his decision-making at the end of regulation that led to the 19-13, overtime loss last week to the Arizona Cardinals, according to an NBC spokesman.
The interview will be shown prior to the Sunday night game between the New York Giants and Cowboys on NBC's Football Night in America.
"When you think about a coach that comes in that meeting and says, 'Hey, I made a mistake on that play,' well, guess what, we need to forget about that," Ware said to NBC.
Last Sunday, with the game tied, 13-13, the Cowboys drove to the Arizona 31 with 26 seconds to play. Instead of calling timeout or spiking the ball quickly, the Cowboys wasted precious seconds before quarterback Tony Romo spiked the ball with seven seconds remaining.
There seemed to be confusion regarding what the Cowboys were trying to do on the sidelines, though Garrett said he was in control of what was going on.
The Cowboys could have run one more play to get closer for a shorter kick if they had called a timeout or spiked the ball sooner. Garrett elected to have Dan Bailey attempt a 49-yard field goal. But as Bailey attempted the field goal, Garrett called timeout with the playclock nearing zero. Bailey made the kick as the whistle blew, signaling for a stop in play.
Upon his second attempt, Bailey was wide left on the field goal, which forced overtime.
When speaking with reporters at least three times on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, Garrett said he wouldn't change anything regarding his decisions.
"We chose to play it this way, and unfortunately, it didn't work out for us this time," Garrett said Monday. "Hopefully, in the future, it will."
Jerry Jones, the Cowboys general manager/owner, said after the game the team could have run a few more plays. But in two interviews this week, on a Dallas-area radio station, Jones said he supported Garrett's decision.
"I'm totally satisfied. I know the process," Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM. "I've spent a lot of time since that ballgame reviewing the process. I knew the process before we had an occasion to have this come up in Arizona. I'm fine with it."
Numerous players and team officials didn't return messages seeking comment on Garrett's apology.
With Garrett apologizing to his players for his decisions, it signals, at least in private, he is admitting a mistake.
"I don't think Coach has to be accountable for saying anything," cornerback Mike Jenkins said Wednesday. "I'm pretty sure, everybody in that [locker] room has a play they wish they could go back on and take back. We're all grown men, we all know what happened and we all know the consequences, and all of us took the L. We're a team and we're going to take it together, so whatever he did, we're going to take it together no matter what. We just have to move on and make the best of it the next few weeks."
The apology could be viewed as Garrett trying to be held accountable to his team with first place on the line in the NFC East in Sunday night's game. When the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals it cost them a chance to move two-games ahead of the Giants for first place in the division.
Now, the Cowboys hold a one-game lead against a team that hasn't lost in two trips at Cowboys Stadium.
Despite the gaffe from Garrett, it appears he still has the support of his locker room.
"Coach Garrett didn't take a snap on the field," defensive end Marcus Spears said on Wednesday. "As a player, just my view of football is that players win games. Are there ever bad calls by coaches? Sure there are. They're bad ones in the first, second, third and fourth quarter. But at the end of the day, we're out there able to control the outcome more effectively than he was able to.
"At the end of the day, I respect Coach for what he did but just me personally as a guy that's a part of this team, I think we got to get that game done as players. Not even let it come down to him making a call or having him make that decisions and it very well went that way."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.