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Cowboys’ Jason Garrett admits costly mistake with Tavon Austin

Jason Garrett, Tavon Austin, Cowboys

Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys are not having the season they envisioned. After a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the head coach is having to face the music about a late-game decision. After the Cowboys fell to 5-4, Garrett called out a crucial mistake: punt returner Tavon Austin calling a fair catch in order to preserve time for Dak Prescott.

Per 105.3 The Fan (via Todd Brock in USA TODAY Sports’ Cowboys Wire):

“You lay out the situation: let’s not waste a lot of time,” Garrett said. “If you don’t have a real good opportunity here to go make a return directly north and south, don’t waste a lot of time. In that situation, the way he saw it, he went ahead and made the fair catch and gave us the opportunity around midfield. In hindsight, when you look at it, there might have been an opportunity for him not to do that and hit it north and south and see if we could make some yards on it.

“That’s a situation where there’s a lot of different scenarios,” Garrett said. “In that situation, there’s a school of thought that it’s absolutely a fair catch situation, so you don’t bleed the clock and you give your offense a chance at midfield to go score a touchdown. And then if the returner, he has that in his mind, and he has an opportunity to go make a play, we certainly encourage him to do that. In that situation, he fair caught it.”

With only half a minute left in the game, Austin chose to stop the clock instead of running down the field getting into close range for a needed touchdown (they were down four, so no field goal helps). Instead, the veteran returner and receiver played it safe, making it more difficult for Prescott to lead a last-minute comeback.