Did Mike McCarthy’s end-of-half clock management cost Cowboys points?

Did Mike McCarthy’s end-of-half clock management cost Cowboys points?

The Dallas Cowboys awful end to their first half in New England was made even worse by mind boggling time management by Mike McCarthy. 

Whatever the opposite of Galaxy Brain is, that’s what Mike McCarthy did at the end of the Cowboys disastrous first half in New England on Sunday.

McCarthy botching Dallas’ end of half time management wasn’t totally egregious, but there’s a chance he stood in the way of the Cowboys potentially getting a shot to make up for their horrendous first half of football with some points.

Dallas trailed 14-10 at halftime, despite making three trips to the redzone in the first half. Two of those trips ended in turnovers, however, including one that featured Dak Prescott trying to sneak the ball across the goal line but fumbling the ball away in the process.

That’s the turnover that set up the Patriots to run out the clock on the first half, expect there was a scenario in which the Cowboys potentially get the ball back.

The chance anything of note happened was slim, but let’s put on our Doctor Strange cape and run through a few of what could have been an endless amount of possible outcomes that benefited the Cowboys more than what actually happened.

Dallas had one time out with just over a minute left in the second quarter. New England took a knee to set up a 3rd down with just over 40 seconds left, which would have left time on the clock for change of possession.

McCarthy used his timeout with three seconds left on the third down play clock, which stopped the game clock with eight seconds. That’s where he potentially screwed up the Cowboys chance of getting one more shot at scoring before the half.

Let’s say Mac Jones had snapped the ball with no time left on the play clock and hesitated taking a knee to bleed as much time off the clock as possible. There’s no way he would have been able to do that for five solid seconds without getting sacked or some potential chaos ensuing.

Had that scenario played out, the Cowboys could have used their timeout to stop the game clock with as much as five seconds on it, forcing the Patriots to make a fourth down decision. Bill Belichick almost certainly would have instructed his punter to kick the ball out of bounds to make sure there as no return, but the Patriots needing to snap the ball one more time could have opened up a Doctor Strange multiverse of potential outcomes.

Outcome #1: The Patriots punt the ball out of bounds, ending the half.

Outcome #2: The Patriots snap the ball, the punter botches the punt but falls on it ending the half.

Outcome #3: The Patriots snap the ball, but the kick out of bounds is blocked and the Cowboys return it for a score

Outcome #4: The Patriots botch the snap and the Cowboys recover, return it for a score

Outcome #5: The Patriots botch the snap, sending it over the punter’s head and through the back of the endzone for a safety. Now it’s 14-12 at halftime.

Outcome #6: Mac Jones comes back out to snap the ball, run around for a few seconds before giving himself up to end the half.

Replay all outcomes 2-5 with Mac Jones under center but add so many other potential botches that could have bounced the Cowboys way.

To be fair, any shot the Cowboys would have had would’ve been extremely slim. But even if the Cowboys hadn’t scored from any of the botches, having the Patriots throw water on their own momentum heading into halftime would have taken a lot of the sting off how the first half went off Dallas.


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