The Dallas Cowboys’ charmed season has finally come to an end after a low-scoring 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The 49ers played a great game, but they were also bolstered by some odd management decisions from the Cowboys’ coaching staff.
At one notable moment late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys looked ready to finally overtake the 49ers and break out after taking possession just past their own 15-yard line. Instead of breaking the game wide open, though, the team floundered and eventually punted on a fourth down at the instruction of head coach Mike McCarthy. What happened here?
The Dallas Cowboys have been struggling since the late 90s. The team hasn’t seen a divisional final since Bill Clinton was in office, and it gets more frustrating for fans every year to watch talented players come and go with nary a Super Bowl ring to show for it. With new head coach Mike McCarthy and superstar quarterback Dak Prescott, fans saw a glimmer of hope for a championship ring in the 21st Century.
However, for the 2022 season, it wasn’t meant to be. McCarthy, who once had a reputation for being extremely aggressive on fourth downs, seems to have lately taken a new strategy: giving up if the team can’t advance ten yards in three downs. Almost without fail, McCarthy commands his team to punt the ball away on the fourth down if the goal isn’t within ten yards.
After punting with only minutes left on the clock, the Cowboys managed to secure possession back with 45 seconds left in the game. And, rather than do anything productive with the ball, McCarthy opted to have his guys run one of the least efficient plays seen in the NFL this season.
After a shaky snap to Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott took a hard tackle that sent him sprawling. Prescott fired off a ten-yard forward pass, but that resulted in little more than another hard tackle and a game-ending fall. And, just like that, in four short quarters of football, the Cowboys were sent back to Dallas for another cold off-season.
With such a strong core of players rounding out the team, it’s infuriating for fans to see guys like Prescott, Elliott, and CeeDee Lamb watch the Super Bowl from home instead of headlining in the event themselves. Time to break out the old Cowboys motto: “maybe next season”.