Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy shouldn’t have even been in a position to make a crucial decision in overtime.
His team went into the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead and somehow wound up going to overtime. The Cowboys entered Sunday with a perfect 195-0 record (including postseason play) when leading by 14 or more points to start the fourth quarter. Now, they’re 195-1.
Putting the first four quarters of football behind, Dallas had the luck to start the overtime period. They called tails and got to start OT with the ball. Things started smoothly. They were moving the ball effectively and found themselves in Green Bay territory.
After two incredibly frustrating “offensive offsides” and holding penalties, the Cowboys eventually found themselves at 3rd and 3 on the Green Bay 35-yard line.
Prescott threw a pass to CeeDee Lamb that was incomplete, and even though Lamb was very clearly interfered with, there was no whistle to save the day.
Facing 4th and 3, many believed the Cowboys would send Brett Maher out for the 53-yard field goal to at least put some points on the board. Keep in mind that Maher has only missed field goals from 59 yards out this season.
Instead, McCarthy went for it. Dak Prescott was unable to complete a pass while under pressure and the Cowboys failed to convert.
There’s something to be said for going for the win when you have the ball, but Cowboys fans were irate that McCarthy didn’t at least give his defense a chance to stay in the game. However, the defense wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain at that point, allowing 14 unanswered points to send the game to OT in the first place.
So, does McCarthy regret the decision? No.
Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy stands by his decision to go for 4th down in OT vs. Packers
Here’s what McCarthy told reporters after the game:
"“We were right on the line for a field goal,” McCarthy said. “Hey, to be honest with you, I thought we needed to go for it. I mean I called it on second down, especially with the way the game was going. Big play, penalty. Big play, penalty. Big play, penalty. So our thing was just keep playing. We had good calls.I’m fine with the decision obviously on fourth-and-3. Just didn’t convert.”"
Six plays later Green Bay won the game. With the score remaining 28-28 after the failed fourth-down conversion, all the Packers needed was a field goal. Once again, Green Bay walked all over the Cowboys defense by driving 55 yards to set up Mason Crosby for an easy 28-yard field goal.
For what it’s worth, Maher wasn’t upset — or at least he didn’t show it. The Cowboys kicker thinks he would have made the kick, despite wind, but respected his coach’s decision.
"“The wind was definitely a factor. I think I could’ve hit a good clean ball going that way but, hey, I love the call to go for the win in that situation. We’re here to win games. I think that was a good call.”"
Instead of regretting the fourth-down call, McCarthy seemed far more upset (semi-understandably) about the continuous penalties. The head coach was visibly frustrated on the field and reporters even said he raised his voice for the first time as a Cowboys coach when speaking about the flags:
"“I thought we were in total control in overtime. Obviously with penalties and the things, very, very, very frustrated. But you have to overcome those things. This group, this group of men, hey, they have it. But just disappointed for them.”"
As we said, McCarthy shouldn’t have even had his team in a place to make such a huge overtime decision. Plus, there’s no saying that even if the Cowboys did make the field goal that the Packers wouldn’t have scored a touchdown after. However, at the end of the day, the coach just wasn’t willing to go for the kick. Despite harsh criticism, he stands by that choice.