It was a rough Monday for Mike McCarthy after some ugly clock management nearly cost the Dallas Cowboys their Week 2 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. But with his stunning game-winning field goal, Kicker Greg Zuerlein saved his head coach an even bigger beatdown from the national media after the apparent gaffe.
Driving to get into Zuerlein's range on their last possession, the Cowboys were at 2nd-and-6 from the Chargers' 41-yard line, which meant a 56-yard attempt. While that wouldn't scare Greg “The Leg” in his prime, the veteran on made 3-of-9 from 50+ yards in 2020 and started this season with a very shaky performance against Tampa Bay.
Despite these concerns, Dallas surprisingly let nearly 25 seconds run off the clock before finally calling a timeout. With time to run at least a couple plays to help get Zuerlein closer for the field goal attempt, the Cowboys inexplicably made the veteran's job about as hard as possible.
Thankfully, Greg delivered. And while his clutch kick defused would've been an absolute explosion of criticism against McCarthy, it still wasn't a great Monday for the Cowboys' coach.
In his postgame comments, McCarthy blamed issues with seeing the clock at SoFi Stadium on the seemingly poor time management. This didn't seem to go over well with many national commentators, with some even calling McCarthy a liar.
While some have come to his defense in response to the backlash, Mike has a reputation for clock management issues going back to his Packers years. And unlike Andy Reid, whose sins in this area have now become almost comic relief and forgiven, McCarthy is still trying to prove that he's the right man for the Cowboys and not just a beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers' greatness.
The clutch win on Sunday definitely helped. It was the kind of game that Dallas fans are all too familiar with and felt like it was headed to a very bad outcome. We've seen far too many of those close contests slip through our fingers in recent history.
Going 0-2 to start the year, even in the face of injuries and the “moral victory” from Week 1, would've been a big blow to McCarthy's credibility. It would've put enough blood in the water for a feeding frenzy from both fans and sports media.
Of course, the Cowboys could've surged back from a two-game deficit to contend in the NFC East and accomplish any other goals they've set for 2021. Even now there's a three-way tie in the division between Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington with their mutual 1-1 records.
But Sunday night and Monday would've be much, much uglier for Mike McCarthy without Greg Zuerlein's heroics. The legitimacy of his excuse is up for debate, but ultimately he's going to get a pass because the Cowboys still got the win.
Hopefully, Mike knows where all the clocks are for next Monday's meeting with the Eagles.