Add owner Jerry Jones to the list of people who would’ve like to see the Cowboys go for it on a 4th-and-1 overtime play Sunday night in Houston.
Conservative playcalling came back to bite the Cowboys again, as the coaching staff elected to punt the ball away on 4th-and-1 with 5:40 to play. That decision, of course, didn’t work out, as a superhuman effort by DeAndre Hopkins and ultimately a game-winning Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal sealed Dallas’ fate.
Jones was asked about the call after the game.
“We were being outplayed,” he said, according to dallascowboys.com. “It’s time for risks at that particular time.”
Garrett told reporters after the game that the decision came in part because it was “a long one [yard]” to go, and Ezekiel Elliott had been stuffed on the previous 3rd-and-2 play.
Elliott averaged 2.7 yards per carry in the game on a down night, relatively speaking, in that category. Still, it wasn’t a matter of not trusting Zeke.
“We felt like we wanted to play the field position game,” Garrett said. “That wasn’t going for the tie.”
So, how big of a “risk” would it have been to go for it in that situation, at the Texans’ 42-yard line?
In the last 18 years, teams faced with similar 4th-and-1 situations in the fourth quarter or overtime have elected to go for it 72.5 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Reference. Those teams have converted 43 of 66 times in that span – a 65 percent clip.
Fifty percent of the time, NFL teams have elected to run the ball in that situation.
And not all of those teams had built a franchise around the ability to pound the rock to pick up yardage like the Cowboys, who spent high-profile draft picks on offensive linemen for years and have one of the league’s top backs in Elliott.
Narrow it down to the Cowboys specifically, and you'll still see a trend.
Since 2016 – when Dak Prescott and Elliott joined the team – the Cowboys have converted 18 of 20 attempts on 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-2.
So, should they have gone for it? You be the judge.
(h/t @percyhoward_ on Twitter for the PFR research)