The Dallas Cowboys kept it close against the Patriots in New England, but ultimately couldn't pull it out in a sloppy game that ended with the score 13-9. Much will be made about the controversial tripping penalty that cost the Cowboys a third-down conversion right after the two-minute warning, but in the end, there is one man and one man alone at fault for losing this winnable game-Jason Garrett.
Garrett's conservative play-calling is what sunk the Cowboys. He chose to kick a field goal on fourth and three from the Patriots' 28-yard line in the second quarter-- a relatively defensible decision, but getting aggressive would have paid off, considering the amount of trouble Ezekiel Elliott was giving New England's defense early on.
His decision to kick yet another field goal with two and a half minutes left in the half from the Patriots' nine-yard line was significantly less defensible, and is probably the one call you can pin this loss on. The first half was ugly and neither side was getting anything going. Garrett needed to recognize that if the Cowboys were that close to a touchdown, they needed to capitalize.
The nail in the coffin came in the form of yet another field goal with six minutes left in the fourth. It was fourth-and-seven while the Cowboys were down by a touchdown, and Dallas had the ball at New England's 11-yard line. In a vacuum, choosing to kick a field goal and trusting your defense to contain an anemic opposing offense is an understandable decision. But nothing happens in a vacuum, and Garrett ignored the context that suggested he should go for it.
When you're down by a touchdown against Tom Brady and the Patriots near the end of the game at Gillette Stadium, you need to take advantage of every opportunity. The Patriots couldn't get much going on offense, but neither could the Cowboys. With the weather as it was, the Cowboys had a much better chance converting that one fourth-and-seven then stopping the Patriots and passing their way down the field against one of the league's best defenses.
The Cowboys did get the ball back, but lo and behold, they could not pass their way down the field, and lost a winnable game. Garrett has already been, and will continue to be, justifiably criticized for his conservative decision-making. It cost the Cowboys again.