Explained: Why Cowboys let time run off before game-winning field goal against Chargers

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers
Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Chargers

Clock management is one of the most important aspects of every NFL game. Clever head coaches will do everything in their power to chew up as much clock time as possible to not allow the opposing team time to score.

NFL games can be won or lost from a single field goal, and some quarterbacks are so good at game-winning drives that coaches have to use every bit of their trickery to make sure said QBs don't get their last chance for a score.

Did the Cowboys mess up a clock-burning opportunity?

The Dallas Cowboys took on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in a thriller that saw the Cowboys win on a final-second field goal.

In most situations when a clock is burning into the final 30 seconds of the game, the team that possesses the ball will use every opportunity to burn more of the clock to either score a touchdown or kick their game-winning field goal.

This is meant to either not allow the opponent a chance to score at all or to give them below 10 seconds to march down the field.

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Unless you're Matt Prater of the Arizona Cardinals and can drill a 62-yard field goal, relying on a kicker that has missed thus far would be a huge risk.

What happened on Sunday was odd, to say the least. McCarthy decided to let the clock burn with only 28 seconds left when running back Tony Pollard ended a run, giving the Cowboys a 3rd and 3 yards chance at a new set of downs.

According to Coach McCarthy, the clock had gone missing from the scoreboard. He had this to say about the situation.

"The clock situation was just different," McCarthy said, via the official game transcript. "I've never had a clock go off the board on me like that. In the second down, we're trying to chip away and get a shorter field goal."

Given the odd situation, McCarthy and especially Dak Prescott should have hurried to the line after 2nd down to spike the ball. A final 3rd down chance to allow the Cowboys a closer field goal would have been ideal. Especially since kicker Greg Zuerlein missed three field goals that cost the Cowboys the game in Week 1.

Thankfully, Zuerlein came in clutch and allowed the Cowboys to kick the game-winning field goal. Had Zuerlein missed, the game would have gone into overtime, and who knows if the Cowboys would have been able to secure a victory.

An electric ending thanks to Greg Zuerlein!#DALvsLAC | 🎥 Watch now on CBS & @NFLNetwork

Being 1-1 is more ideal than being 0-2, especially in a division with the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team at one win apiece. The Cowboys will need to keep pace to win the division this year, especially since the Eagles are looking to be a tough opponent.

The clock situation on Sunday could very well have been due to some technical issues, but the Cowboys will have to further look at the game film to determine if the mistake of almost losing the game is on them.

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Edited by Henno van Deventer
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