clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Dallas Cowboys were given multiple late chances to win against the 49ers and blew them all

It is time for a long and hard look in the mirror for the Cowboys franchise.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoff-San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys lost on Sunday. A season that was once so promising is now an afterthought, a page in history, another part of the drought that Cowboys fans have to live with. We are, unfortunately, more accustomed to this lifestyle than we would like, but what is making this particular cut of meat more difficult to swallow is the aftertaste.

Following their season-ending loss to the San Francisco 49ers, members of the Cowboys organization chose to point fingers and blame officiating.

We discussed everything that happened during Sunday night’s season-ending loss on our Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

Among the notable cries of foul play Cowboys players were upset with was the final moment in the game, and how they were unable to get a final play off. Absent from their diatribes were any sort of statements noting that if they had gone about things differently, if they had planned and prepared for the moment better, then maybe the result would have been what they wanted.

That is the problem with the latest example of Cowboys humiliation. As a whole the team is acting like they were robbed of eternal glory while failing to recognize the opportunities they did have and ultimately did not do enough with.

The Dallas Cowboys were given multiple late chances to win against the 49ers and blew them all

It has often been said that football is a game of inches. These inches are sometimes incredibly obvious, but in other instances you have to look a little harder for them. More than anything you have to be able to admit where the inches were which is what Dallas’ problem is as their offseason begins.

The focus has been on the end of the game for the Cowboys, but let’s back things up a bit to the end of the third quarter (there were plenty of opportunities missed before this, don’t get me wrong). From that point on the 49ers almost went out of their way to give the Cowboys multiple opportunities to steal the game and Dallas failed at basically every turn.

Jimmy Garoppolo misses Brandon Aiyuk deep on 3rd and 10 (1:47 left in the 3rd)

With just under two minutes to go in the third quarter the 49ers had the ball on their own 24-yard line and were facing 3rd and 10. Jimmy Garoppolo dropped back and had a wide open Brandon Aiyuk down the field (shout out Trevon Diggs) and just completely missed him.

That was a gift, an inch if you will. Aiyuk was as wide open as you can get in the NFL and if his quarterback is able to put the ball anywhere within his legitimate catch radius then San Francisco (already up 23-7 at the time) keeps driving and potentially goes on to effectively ice the game. Alas that was not the case.

The Cowboys immediately collapsed after a successful fake punt

So the 49ers give the ball back to the Cowboys and Dallas has life down two possessions. Dak Prescott fumbled on the first play, the Cowboys committed a penalty on the next one (negating a nice gain, shocker), but ultimately they were able to put some semblance of a drive together before facing 4th and 5 at their own 48-yard line.

With the season on the line, time being of the essence, and two possessions necessary for overtime the Cowboys threw the kitchen sink by way of a John Fassel fake punt. Amazingly they were successful and instead of being grateful and having a sense of urgency to get back to work right away they decided to stand around and do nothing. Literally!

Not only did the Cowboys stand around and do nothing but they did so long enough that they allowed 40 seconds of precious clock to tick off and took five yards on a delay of game. It was truly a masterclass at inefficiency.

You know how upset they and some were/are about not having enough time at the end of the game for one last snap? Well imagine if the Cowboys hadn’t thrown away all of this time trying to be cute and just played football.

After some heroics, the Cowboys had the ball with a chance to win

You are well aware that Dallas still wound up kicking a field goal after the immortal fake punt, that Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception shortly after, and that Dak Prescott then ran in a touchdown to narrow the gap to six points. Football can be that crazy sometimes.

The Cowboys defense stood tall (sort of) after Prescott’s score and forced a San Francisco punt to give their team, their great offense that we have all praised, the ball back with full control of destiny, eternal glory, and all that jazz.

This was the situation to be very clear:

  • The score was 23-17, San Francisco
  • Dallas got the ball back at their own 16-yard line
  • The Cowboys had all three timeouts in their pocket
  • At the time of the possession’s beginning there was 2:42 left on the game clock
  • 49ers defenders Nick Bosa and Fred Warner were both out of the game for San Francisco

Obviously having to go 84 yards is no easy task, but this is the Dallas Cowboys. They have all these offensive stars and are supposed to be able to move the ball on the command. What’s more is that throughout the game they were seemingly begging for an opportunity to control their own fate which, as of all things fate would have it, they ultimately got.

What followed might be the biggest indictment of the Cowboys offense, Kellen Moore, Dak Prescott, Mike McCarthy, and whoever else you want to lump in:

  • 1st and 10 (DAL 16): Dak Prescott incomplete to Dalton Schultz
  • 2nd and 10 (DAL 16): Dak Prescott to Dalton Schultz for 38 yards
  • 1st and 10 (SF 46): Dak Prescott sacked for -1 yards

Let’s take a break here to look at this exact moment. After Dak Prescott is taken down there are 22 seconds left before the two-minute warning. As has been stated many times here, time was extremely valuable. While it makes sense to want to get a play off before the clock stoppage the reality was that Dallas had just suffered a negative play, had only 41 yards to go for what was a necessary score, and still had all three of their own timeouts to work with. There was no need to rush anything. They needed to take a deep breath and make sure the next play call was perfect.

Instead the Cowboys chose to rush to the line of scrimmage and get one more play off as we are all aware. Dak Prescott threw an incompletion that was directed at CeeDee Lamb, the two-minute warning came and went, and then Prescott failed to convert his fourth-down heave to Cedrick Wilson.

This was the chance. There is no denying it. The Cowboys can moan and groan about how officials robbed them of their moment, but they robbed themselves and shrunk when the moment begged them to be great. You simply cannot get the ball back in a situation where the touchdown wins the game, only manage six plays, and blame anybody but yourself.

The fact that Dallas got the ball back again was yet another break they caught

Amazingly that possession would not be the last one of the day for Dallas as they wound up with the infamous quarterback draw to end the contest; however, how they got the ball back to begin with was some fortune that smiled on them, too.

There was a lot of tension in the final minute and change of the game as on 3rd and 10 Deebo Samuel ran for what appeared to be the game-clinching first down. All hope seemed lost as the officials went to review whether or not Samuel crossed the line to gain.

Keep in mind that the Cowboys would go on to literally blame the officials about 30 minutes later in real time, but the officials themselves deemed that Samuel was short. After a re-measure it was determined that San Francisco still had a yard to go on fourth down, one that Kyle Shanahan was more than happy to roll the dice on.

Until he couldn’t because an official intervened! The 49ers lined up to try and win the game themselves on a quarterback sneak, but a false start was called on Trent Williams and San Francisco had to punt which allowed the Cowboys to give us the end that will haunt us for many months.

But the overall point still stands. The officials had two decisions in those final moments that served as the impetus for Dallas’ season staying alive. That the coaches and players would turn around and blame them right away shows an either purposeful or accidental unwillingness to recognize all of the moments that they controlled their own fate and didn’t live up to the moment. All for them to do this anyway.

What a total letdown.