The Dallas Cowboys looked like a real good football team on Monday Night Football, dominating the Philadelphia Eagles en route to solidifying their place as the cream of the crop in the NFC East. There was one moment in the game, though, that could be an indicator of future problems to come.
The Cowboys had stopped the Eagles with slightly less than one minute to go in the second half. Philly was going to punt. The Cowboys had two timeouts and could have used one of them to stop the clock, ensuring the offense would get a few plays to move down the field and try for a field goal before the quarter expired. It is the kind of no-brainer, obvious move that even casual football viewers know you have to take advantage of.
Yet Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy stood there, letting the clock run. Even the referee was confused standing alongside him, waiting for the coach to call timeout. Yet no timeout came. The Cowboys got the ball back with 11 seconds left, took a knee, and trotted into the locker room.
Ultimately it didn't matter. But in a closer game, McCarthy's decision to pass up a chance at a score could have had significant ramifications. It's made even worse by the fact that the Eagles' defense clearly couldn't stop the Cowboys' offense and there was essentially no downside to at least trying to score before the half. That is why we find ourselves today criticizing McCarthy after a statement win for his team, and the Get Up crew piled on this morning.
It really is baffling. Anybody watching the ManningCast could see Peyton and Eli having simultaneous aneurisms trying to figure out why McCarthy would let the clock run. Clock mismanagement is not a new problem with McCarthy (see: 2014 NFC Championship Game) but the hope was that he had figured it out after a few years off the sideline. It does not seem like that's the case.
Again, it made zero difference in this game. But these kinds of little moments can decide games down the line for Dallas. McCarthy's blundering is not an encouraging sign for what will happen should the Cowboys find themselves in a competitive game in the future.