Upon further review, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett still sees nothing wrong with how he managed the end of regulation in a loss to Arizona.

He insisted Monday there was no need to call a timeout after getting a first down at the 31-yard line with about 25 seconds left, even though Dallas could have run a few plays in hopes of setting up a shorter field goal.

He maintained he "thought it was the right thing to do'' in letting the clock wind down and settle for a 49-yard field goal by a rookie kicker who'd already missed from 53 yards, and who'd made a 50-yarder only because of a fortuitous ricochet off an upright.

And he considered it "not really appropriate'' to think he may have added to the pressure on his kicker by then calling a timeout just before the rookie was trying that 49-yarder.

OK, then: How about the decision for Tony Romo to spike the ball after getting the first down that started the wild finish; was that Romo's choice or Garrett's?

"I don't have a great answer for you on that,'' Garrett said.

Asked next about what special teams coach Joe DeCamillis was saying right before Garrett called the timeout, Garrett again said, "I don't have a great answer for you on that.''

Garrett's usual day-after news conference was unlike any of his previous 19 such gatherings, except for Garrett remaining calm and sticking to his speaking points. His default answer was, "We chose to play it this way and, unfortunately, it didn't work out for us this time. Hopefully in the future it will.''

There were no apologies, no second-guessing.

"We don't use the word `second guess,''' Garrett said. "You say, `Could we have done this, could we have done that, should we have done this?''' It is very similar to calling a play. When a play works, it was a good call, it was a good play. When it doesn't work, a lot of people say that call wasn't very good.''

That chorus of critics has ranged from TV commentators to fans, including LeBron James, who aired his gripes on Twitter. He punctuated it with the line, "I'm sick right now.'' So many others vented via Twitter that he was trending among Dallas-Fort Worth users.

Garrett acknowledged he could have done everything suggested by the armchair quarterbacks. He said he didn't simply because he trusted kicker Dan Bailey, who'd already set an NFL rookie mark by winning four games with field goals in the last two minutes of regulation or later, including the two previous games.

"We just wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to kick the game-winner,'' Garrett said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out for us.''

The best clue to Garrett's train of thought could be the words "an opportunity to kick.'' It hints at the risk that while the Cowboys could have gotten closer, they also could have gotten further back and moved beyond Bailey's comfort zone. Dallas already had been penalized three times on that drive and had a passing play that lost a yard. Romo had been sacked a season-worst five times in the game, and running back DeMarco Murray lost yards on three of his 12 carries.

Garrett was asked if those things factored into his decision. His response began to confirm it, then returned to his crutch phrase.

"You don't want to live in a world saying, `Hey, we're trying not to go backwards,' but you see those situations happen in the last couple of weeks,'' he said. "Four teams in field-goal range got themselves out of field-goal range. The mindset was, `Hey, we're right here, let's give him a chance to do it.' We gave him that opportunity. Unfortunately, it didn't work out.

"There is nobody I'd rather put in that situation based on our experience this year than Dan Bailey. I think our operation has been outstanding and he has done an outstanding job with every opportunity given him. We just wanted to make sure we gave him that chance. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. Next time, we're going to make sure we give him a similar opportunity because we really believe in him and what he's done for our football team this year.''

The Cowboys ultimately lost because they let a screen pass turn into a 52-yard touchdown on the opening series of overtime. Yet the game could've been won at the end of regulation, which is why the focus Monday remained on those decisions.

Garrett is well aware of how scrutinized all NFL coaches are, especially the leader of "America's Team.'' And he knows that the only thing more popular than rooting for the Cowboys on Sunday is second-guessing them on Monday.

"We didn't get it done, we have to live with that and I have to live with the decisions that I made for our football team and I have to live with what happened as the outcome of the game,'' he said. "But, most importantly, we have to put this one to bed and go to the next one.''

That brings up the ramification that matters most.

Had the Cowboys won, they would have a chance to clinch the division title by beating the Giants at home on Sunday night. The loss means New York could reclaim first place by winning that game. Even if Dallas wins, the Giants could still be in the hunt when they meet two weeks later.

All because of one missed kick, and the series of decisions that led up to it.

"You try the best to make the best decision, to get the best outcomes, sometimes they don't work out,'' Garrett said. "You evaluate them, you put them behind you and you move on. ... We've got to play our best for three hours on Sunday against the Giants. They're an awfully good football team. We understand the challenge.''


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