After a last-second loss, every decision by the losing coach is open to being critiqued. The Dallas Cowboys‘ decision to spike the ball with 47 seconds remaining on the clock turned out to be a game-changer in the Green Bay Packers‘ 34-31 win.
Not only did the spike give the Cowboys only two shots to gain 10 yards for another first down — which they failed to accomplish, settling for a Dan Bailey 52-yard field goal to tie the game — it ultimately preserved enough time for Aaron Rodgers to help set up the Packers‘ winning field goal.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett defended the spike following the loss.
“We just felt that was the right thing to do at that time,” Garrett said. “Keeping the timeout to be able to kick a field goal is really important if you can do it. So in those situations when you make a first down, we believe clock it there so you keep the timeout in your back pocket. Obviously, in that situation we’re trying to go down there and score a touchdown, so you want to keep as much time on the clock as you can. If the clock is going and you need a timeout to get yourself in field goal range, you have that one still available to you.”
There is a difficult balance between trying to win the game and ensuring a dominant player like Rodgers is left with as little time as possible. The Cowboys used the final timeout on a fruitless freeze attempt of Packers kicker Mason Crosby on the game winner. It’s easy to second-guess now, but even the Packers QB thinks the Cowboys played it wrong, leaving 35 seconds for one final drive.
“A little too much time on the clock,” Rodgers said.