The Dallas Cowboys have one final opportunity to win the game. It was getting late in Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, and they had made a number of mistakes, but they still had a shot to make things interesting. This was an intriguing formation, even by formation standards.
When Dallas was on their own 24-yard line, they were down by seven points. Since the final minutes of the game weren’t their best, this was the result. There were no offensive linemen in their regular positions, and running back Ezekiel Elliott was set up to hand off to quarterback Dak Prescott when the Cowboys came out in an unusual configuration. Everyone was paying attention to this now.
The play ended with a resounding thud, though, as soon as the ball was tossed. The Cowboys’ season ended with a 19-12 setback to the No. 2 seed 49ers. Next week, the 49ers will face the Eagles in a Sunday football game.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy stated of the failed gadget play, It didn’t get going.
On their way to the field, the Cowboys’ offensive line spread out, and Ezekiel Elliott, a rookie in the league, took the snap at center (in what could have been his final snap as a Cowboy, strangely).
The play looked promising, even though there were still 76 yards to go and the team was facing an uphill battle. So, what did Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have up his sleeve? Unfortunately, this time the rabbit did not appear from the hat.
Prescott ducked and tossed the ball to KaVontae Turpin, who was nearly immediately sacked. A bit more on Turpin is forthcoming. Must have shocked Turpin to the ground, straight quickly. What sort of wizardry the Cowboys were attempting may remain a mystery forever.
I don’t want to get into specifics, but it was not the plan,” McCarthy added. “That last bit sounds like a prank act or something. For the last play of the game, this is the play-call we practice.”
With over two minutes remaining and no timeouts, the Cowboys punted from their own 18-yard line after Prescott was sacked on third down. When 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell went out of bounds on a first down, sending the ball back to Dallas, this aspect of the strategy worked.
Even though the two-minute warning was bad, the final 51 seconds were catastrophic.
It was 2:50 when Prescott was sacked, and 2:11 when Bryan Anger’s punt was fair caught. That’s at least a 15-second waste that could have cost the Cowboys a touchdown. A lot of time was wasted there when it could have been used to better effect in the last push.
Turpin made a fair catch at the Cowboys’ 6-yard line when they regained possession. It appeared as though the ball would have entered the end zone if he had simply let it drop to the ground. The 49ers’ left gunner was knocked to the turf, and the next man downfield was standing about five yards behind the spot where the ball would have landed if it had been thrown.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared to appreciate the gravity of his team’s failure to score on the game’s closing possession.
According to Jones’ postgame press conference: “We had it there for us probably until the last three or four minutes.” “We were prepared to take the next step toward a championship with the tools at our disposal. I still feel terrible. I was hoping for a different resolution to this tale.”
However, it wasn’t the end of it. The Cowboys could not stop making mistakes down the stretch.
On the opening play of their final possession, Prescott nearly gave up a game-ending safety by rolling out deep into his own end zone during a slow-developing pass play. Even after Prescott avoided the defender in the end zone, his ball to Schultz was broken up. That was the mood-setter for the rest of the trip.
Schultz finally had his chance, and he made two catches for a total of 9 yards. On third-and-1 right next to the sideline, one of them was a game-changing grab. As soon as Schultz went too far, he was shoved back. When there are less than two minutes left, the clock starts ticking. Dallas had used up all of its defensive timeouts in the previous series.
The 49ers went into a full-scale defensive drop with 10 seconds remaining as Dallas looked to catch them napping. Prescott attempted a pass to Schultz on an out route, a move that would have put the team at the other team’s 39-yard line, where they could have set up for a last trick play before returning the ball to The Star. A review of the play revealed that Schultz did not actively attempt to place his second foot inside the limits, hence it was deemed an incompletion.
The final play illustrated how poorly the Cowboys had performed in the game’s final moments. It was the end of the road for the Cowboys. Elliott, who only gained 26 yards on 10 carries and dropped two third-down throws in the second half, may have been done for good. After hurting his ankle, Tony Pollard had to leave the game. While the running game struggled, Elliott, whose contract allows him an exit this offseason, was not successful.
The Cowboys were behind by two scores with less than a minute to go, but they still had a chance to win the game on the road with three minutes left. Considering how the game’s last minutes unfolded, the Cowboys were doomed from the start.
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