Jason Garrett's strange decision to punt on fourth-and-1 in OT will be second-guessed

One of the embattled coaches from Sunday night’s game was going to have a lot of regrets. Both of them would have if the game ended in a tie.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will have the longer week after his team lost on an overtime field goal, especially after he punted on fourth-and-1 in Houston Texans territory in overtime. That doesn’t mean Texans coach Bill O’Brien had a good night. His team just overcame his questionable decisions, particularly in the red zone.

Garrett and O’Brien have been under criticism this season, but at least when O’Brien is second-guessed, it will be from a winning effort. Garrett is going to hear about his overtime call all week.

Jason Garrett didn’t have a great night in a loss to the Texans. (AP)
Jason Garrett didn’t have a great night in a loss to the Texans. (AP)

Jason Garrett’s fourth-down decision in OT was bad

We’re entering an era, thankfully, in which fourth-and-1 in opposing territory isn’t an automatic punt. That’s why it was surprising to see Garrett punt the ball away in overtime.

Here was the situation: Dallas had the first possession, so a touchdown would win the game. Dallas got stopped for no gain on third-and-1 at the Houston 42-yard line. Considering the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott, one of the NFL’s best backs, and a good offensive line, it seemed like a clear situation to go for it.

The Cowboys punted instead and never got the ball back. Houston took over at its own 10, and a long pass to DeAndre Hopkins set up a game-winning field goal.

The funny thing about Garrett getting conservative is the Cowboys went for it on fourth-and-1 at Houston’s 41-yard line just after the two-minute warning of the first half. Dak Prescott got 2 yards for the first down. When the stakes were higher, Garrett folded. That decision will follow him for a while.

His explanation, which included that it was a long 1 yard to go, probably won’t help.

“Yeah, it was a long 1 [yard],” Garrett told the media after the game, via “You know, we had a third-and-2 and we didn’t make much on it and we just felt like at that point in the game, the way our defense was playing, the idea was to pin them down there. Chris [Jones] did a great job with the punt. They got the ball on the 10-yard line and hopefully you make a stop and you win the game coming back the other way with a game-winning field goal.”

Bill O’Brien made odd decisions as well

O’Brien’s play-calling near the goal line was atrocious all night, but one decision stood out.

Late in the first half, Hopkins was stopped just short of the goal line setting up fourth-and-goal with 10 seconds remaining. The Texans went for it instead of taking a field goal. That isn’t the worst decision. But the Texans decided to go with a shotgun set, which made their pass play rather predictable. Quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t have anyone open, tried to run and got sacked.

The Texans had many questionable decisions near the goal line, and not much success there. On one sequence the Texans had Watson sneak it up the middle at the 1-yard line on second down, and when he didn’t get it they spread it out and passed incomplete on third down. That’s a strange thought process in play-calling. Another time they had Watson, who had taken many huge hits and was clearly banged up, run a quarterback sweep near the goal line. He got hit hard again.

The Texans’ decisions near the goal line was unbelievably bad and it kept the Cowboys in the game.

It wasn’t a game either coach should be overly proud of. But Garrett is the one who will have to answer the most heated questions afterward.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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