ARLINGTON, Texas — With the game on the line, and a rally to come-from-behind to beat the Vikings nearly complete, the Cowboys opted to take a prime opportunity away from quarterback Dak Prescott.
“I don’t want to go into details on what the plays are,” said head coach Jason Garrett, "but unfortunately we weren’t able to convert on that, and we got into that fourth down situation.”
The potential go-ahead drive started at the Cowboys own six-yard line. Dak Prescott continued his hot night, flinging the ball around allowing the Cowboys offense to set up shop in the Vikings red zone with a chance to punch in the go-ahead score in a game they trailed 28-24.
Running back Zeke Elliott struggled for the entire game. His longest run was six yards. He rushed for just 47 yards on 20 carries. The Cowboys failed to gain a rushing first down for just the third time in franchise history.
Which made the play-calling on the Cowboys next-to-last drive such a head-scratcher.
On a second-and-two, at the 11-yard line the Cowboys called a running play for Zeke Elliott. He was stuffed for no gain like he had been so many times on this night. Then, inexplicably on third-and-two, the Cowboys tried another run.
“You have to go back and look at the situation,” said Prescott. "You don’t want to leave too much time on the clock for them. So, I’m not going to question the play calling. There were opportunities. We just have to do better at executing those plays. It’s as simple as that. Every guy in that locker room would say that.”
Prescott brought up the issue of time, but there is a disconnect. If the team was so concerned with time why did they snap both the second and third-down plays with 20 seconds left on the play clock?
The Minnesota Vikings did their best to make Dak Prescott beat them, and he nearly did with a major assist from his receiving corps. Dak Prescott threw for 397 yards with several highlight plays provided by receivers Amari Cooper and Randal Cobb.
"We get through that first down, no one in here is even talking about the fact that they took the ball out of my hands,” said Prescott. "It comes down to execution. We just have to execute those plays. As I said, the linemen would say that the running backs would say that. The whole team would say that.”
The Cowboys missed out on a chance to get in the conversation as one of the better teams in the NFC East. Instead, they’ll be in an absolute dog fight with Philadelphia to try and win the NFC East, which figures to be their only chance at qualifying for the postseason.
Prescott said the Cowboys, “absolutely” missed a chance to make a strong statement, “We’re a confident team. We’re not going to let anybody outside of that locker room get in between us. We’re going to stay close together. We’re going to just keep working."