As often happens on a NFL Monday, the big story of Dallas’ season-opening loss is the final play. Terrance Williams’ game-ending decision not to get out of bounds but instead go for more yardage has been met with with plenty of outrage and bewilderment, but also some mild defense.
I thought I’d take a few minutes to dissect that play and see how defensible it was for Williams. You can use this video to follow along with the second-by-second breakdown:
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00:12 – Ball is snapped from Cowboys 46-yard-line.
00:10 – Williams catches ball on Giants 48-yard line.
Assuming Terrance had run for the sideline and gained a few more yards, Dan Bailey would have had a shot from about 61-63 yards out. That’s a good 5-7 yards more than his career long, but not outside of his range based on pregame warm-ups and other practice kicks.
Some have defended Williams based on this; Bailey’s chances of making that kick were low and the receiver felt he had to try and make a play. There may be a smidge of merit to that idea, but there’s just one problem.
There was time to run one more play.
Terrance Williams caught the ball near the sideline with 10 seconds left. He could have gotten out of bounds within about 2-3 seconds the most, leaving 8-7 seconds on the clock. It would have been about a 10-yard gain that took all of four or five seconds to run.
Dallas would have had time to try and get one more quick out to put Bailey in better range. They could have allowed to Dak Prescott to make another quick read and either throw to a receiver or just throw it out of bounds to let Bailey try the 60-yarder. Even if it took six seconds to run the play, Dallas would have had time to try it and put Bailey in a much better position.
Obviously, we have the power of a timed replay and hindsight to make this argument. It’s hard to ask players to process all of that in the heat of the moment.
Williams’ choice would be more defensible if he’d actually tried to go for the touchdown. He had the inside position to beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and could have tried to cut back outside and take the sideline to the endzone.
I doubt he makes it, but diving to end the play was the worst possible choice. It was a no-win scenario.
If you follow me on Twitter (@CowboysAddicts) then you know I’m not a big fan of Terrance Williams. I’ve seen him blow way more plays than he’s made in three years and made plenty of jokes about it. In fact, he’s blocked my account because of my “hater” status.
This isn’t to pile on the guy. I feel horrible for him because I’m sure Terrance feels even more horribly. I don’t think he was trying to play hero ball but just had a misguided sense of the circumstances and what he had to do to help the team win.
Ultimately, Dallas’ porous run defense and settling for field goals over touchdowns played a much larger role in the loss. But make no mistake; the Cowboys still had a chance to win and Williams’ took it off the table.
It was a tough way to start the year for the player, team, and the fans. Hopefully we’re all happier next week in Washington.