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Garrett's overtime call scrutinized after Cowboys' loss

By
The Sports Xchange
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett watches from the sidelines during a game against the Carolina Panthers on September 9, 2018. Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett watches from the sidelines during a game against the Carolina Panthers on September 9, 2018. Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI | License Photo

It appears Dallas Cowboys' fans are starting to lose patience with head coach Jason Garrett and his by-the-book approach.

That frustration came to a head late Sunday night when the Cowboys faced a fourth-and-1 at the Houston 42 in overtime of a 19-16 loss. Garrett made the call to punt and Dallas never got the ball back.

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Instead, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson hit wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 49-yard gain into Cowboys territory that eventually led to kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn's 36-yard game-winning field goal.

Garrett spent a chunk of his Monday press conference answering questions about the decision to punt instead of going with the team's supposed strength -- a quality offensive line and power running game.

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"It just made sense to us, to me at that time to go ahead and play field position," Garrett said. "Give Chris Jones a chance to trap them on the 10-yard line and go play defense. Physically, over the course of the game, we were really wearing them out. Our defensive line was getting to their running back, getting to the quarterback."

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That seemed logical at the time. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was held to 54 yards on 20 carries in regulation. He was stuffed on third-and-1 and Garrett pointed out that Dallas needed closer to two yards on the fourth down when they decided to punt.

Dallas has lost all three of its road games this season and has scored a total of three touchdowns in the process. The Cowboys' offensive line is missing center Travis Frederick, who went on injured reserve last week as he continues to undergo treatment for Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

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Garrett acknowledged that Dallas's offensive front has struggled in the losses.

"Part of it has been the communication part," he said. "I think we've played our three worst games on the offensive line on the road. That's just something we have to get better at. You play road games, crowd noise is a part of it."

--RB Ezekiel Elliott gained just 54 yards on 20 carries in the Cowboys' loss to Houston. He came up limping after a four-yard carry in overtime but returned to the game a few plays later. Garrett said Elliott might be banged up, but the running back's toughness will keep him on the field. Elliott also caught seven passes for 30 yards

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--DE Demarcus Lawrence watched as J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney stole the spotlight from him on Sunday Night Football. Lawrence entered Week 5 as the NFL's sack leader with 5 1/2, but the Texans held him to one assisted tackle and no sacks.

--QB Dak Prescott completed 18 of 29 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was off target at key moments, including the passes that resulted in tipped-ball interceptions. Prescott is not completing many passes down the field and he's had trouble making effective short passes as well.

--WR Michael Gallup has managed just six receptions for 82 yards over five games. He got the Cowboys' hopes up with a solid training camp, showing skills that made the team think he could be a productive wide receiver. By comparison, Texans' fourth-round pick, WR Keke Coutee, caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in Houston's overtime win against Dallas on Sunday night.

--LB Jaylon Smith was in on 12 tackles Sunday night against the Texans. That included six solo tackles, the team's only sack and three tackles for a loss. He also had one pass defense.

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