At one point, they found themselves literally in the same circumstance. It was first and goal from the three-yard line, facing the television audience’s left side.
On the first redzone possession of the season, the Cowboys faced 1st and Goal from the three-yard line. Despite Ezekiel Elliott being on the field, they forced the ball to Dez. They would settle for a field goal. pic.twitter.com/Q5M0rNpyfN— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 26, 2017
This was, at the time, puzzling. Dallas had the reigning rushing champion, who had been granted the ability to play not long before the game, in the backfield and chose to throw the ball to Dez Bryant on first down.
Much to Cowboys fans frustration, Dallas would try this again on second and goal. And third and goal. Dallas threw it to Dez three times in a row when he was being covered by Janoris Jenkins, his kryptonite so to speak, and failed in all three instances.
We talked about this ad nauseam in the ensuing days. Why was Dallas insisting on getting the ball to Dez, ironically a year after they failed to get it to him against the very same Giants, when they had Zeke in the backfield? It made no sense.
Unfortunately, 106 days later, the Cowboys did find themselves in the same situation all over again. It was first and goal from the three-yard line, only this time the season was on the line as the Cowboys were in a must-win situation. Same story, same ending.
On the most important redzone possession of the season, the Cowboys faced 1st and Goal from the three-yard line. Despite Ezekiel Elliott being on the field, they did not hand it to him again. They would settle for, and miss, a field goal. pic.twitter.com/mje4ACOc07— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 26, 2017
While the Cowboys didn’t throw the ball to Dez, they did fail to hand the ball to their all-world running back. Again. With the season on the line. This really happened.
Similarly to the instance against New York, the Cowboys would fail to hand the ball to Zeke even once. Seriously. They didn’t hand him the ball one time in this situation.
Now this drive wasn’t exactly three plays because of a Jason Witten holding penalty, but the point stands that they did not hand the ball to Zeke at all, which resulted in a field goal attempt (Dan Bailey would miss). It’s insane that the best thing we can say about the sequence against Seattle is that the Cowboys didn’t throw it to Dez three times.
Jason Garrett, and all coaches in general, love to talk about learning from mistakes. How is it, with 106 days of opportunity to learn, that the Cowboys made the same mistake in a situation of much more importance?
The decision to not run the ball at all is one that will haunt the Cowboys over the entire offseason. The non-playing portion of the NFL calendar is longer than 106 days, so maybe it will be enough for them to finally learn. Who knows.