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Rams head coach Sean McVay pulled a move in Sunday’s win that Cowboys fans have grown tired of

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Maybe McVay is a little like Jason Garrett?

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Sunday wasn’t too kind to the Cowboys as far as their NFC East hopes go (Washington and Philadelphia both won), but it wasn’t the worst day ever as far as a wildcard race will likely go.

The green and yellow kryptonite of the Cowboys has been Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for quite some time. Green Bay lost on the road in Los Angeles (during a sports equinox!) as the Rams marched to their eighth straight victory on the season to stay undefeated.

It wasn’t exactly the offensive explosion that people expected all week, but the Rams and Packers got feisty towards the end. Green Bay took a lead late and the Rams had to go down and take the lead without leaving too much time for Aaron Rodgers. This is a problem we all know too well.

The Situation: Rams down by one (27-26), 5:20 left in the game

Los Angeles took over at the Green Bay 40-yard line (it was an awful punt). They had one timeout remaining while the Packers had two. At this point obviously a field goal gives you the lead but as mentioned many times it’s Aaron Rodgers that you have a hypothetical lead against. Nothing is ever safe.

This was an important possession. The Rams didn’t exactly have their season on the line in the moment but there’s a strong possibility that this game could help determine home-field advantage or whether or not the Rams get a bye. Again, it’s Aaron Rodgers, anything is possible (ugh). LA ran six plays on their drive:

  • Run (Brandin Cooks)
  • Pass (Incomplete)
  • Run (Todd Gurley)
  • Run (Gurley again)
  • What ended up being a quarterback scramble but had a penalty
  • Run (Gurley again)
  • Run (Gurley again)

Perhaps the most interesting play call here was the final Todd Gurley run. It came on 3rd and 16 from the Packers’ 19-yard line with 2:50 left in the game. Sean McVay is often regarded as the brightest offensive mind in the NFL these days (rightfully so), but he intentionally chose to play things extremely conservative by taking a field goal when down by a point as opposed to even trying to score a touchdown or get closer despite knowing that Aaron Rodgers was on the other side of things with at least one clock stoppage.

McVay was betting on a one-point lead being enough against the best quarterback in the game who’s made a career out of rising to the occasion in the exact type of moment that he was designing with a clear and conscious mind.

Jason Garrett has acted similarly this season and been met with noting but criticism

We spent last week talking about how conservative Jason Garrett has been, how the Cowboys were sheepish on their final drive in Washington, and how these exact mistakes would wind up costing the head coach in Dallas his job.

Sean McVay’s Rams got extremely lucky that the Packers fumbled the ensuing kickoff return which gave them the opportunity to ice the game with a 29-27 lead. Not to get into a large game of what ifs, but had Aaron Rodgers gotten the opportunity to get the ball with just about two minutes and a time stop left, there’s a solid chance that he would have at least gotten the Packers into field goal range. Why take that risk? Perhaps the more important question is why not try to mitigate that risk at all?

Nobody is going to sit here and tell you that Jason Garrett hasn’t been conservative at critical points this season nor that those mistakes haven’t had severe consequences. It is definitely worth saying out loud though that everybody is conservative, including the head coach that everybody would trade it all for. What’s more is that McVay was conservative in perhaps the biggest moment of the season for the Rams against a team where that type of approach has burned many people before him.