You don’t want Dan Quinn on your sideline if you’re trying to protect a fourth quarter lead. Somehow, his teams always try to throw the game away.
Those watching the Cowboys’ final possessions in their 27-17 win over the Saints Thursday can be excused if their minds started harkening back to Super Bowl LI, when Quinn’s Falcons were trying to stay in control against the Patriots. Though Tom Brady delivered his best Super Bowl performance ever in the Patriots’ historic comeback, he received assists from horrendous Falcons play-calling.
With the Falcons leading 28-12 with about 8.5 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Atlanta was facing a 3rd-and-1 from its own 36-yard line. Running the ball was the obvious call. It was only one yard, and if the Falcons fell short, they could’ve pinned the Patriots deep into their territory.
But incredulously, Matt Ryan dropped back to pass. He was sacked by Dont’a Hightower, and lost a fumble. The Patriots took over at the 25-yard line and quickly scored a touchdown and two-point conversion.
On the next possession, the Falcons were at New England’s 23-yard line with less than four minutes remaining. Crazily, they tried to pass again, and Ryan was sacked. They were out of field goal range, and no longer in position to ice the game. The Patriots scored another touchdown and two-point conversion, sending the game into overtime.
So now we go back to Thursday night. The Cowboys got the ball up 20-10 with 8:57 left, and had a drive that lasted 52 seconds. Dak Prescott threw twice, and Marshon Lattimore picked off his second offering.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Taysom Hill was on the other side of the field, not Brady. Hill threw an interception on the next possession.
But wait, it gets worse. The Cowboys only ate up 1:04 on their next drive. Once again, Prescott passed twice. Keep in mind, Tony Pollard had already ripped off a 58-yard touchdown run, and Ezekiel Elliott is in Cowboys’ backfield, too.
Can you guess what happened next? Trevon Diggs intercepted Hill, giving Dallas the ball back. Then they went 3-and-out again!
Four plays later, Carlos Watkins came back with a pick-six, icing the game. Phew.
In Quinn’s defense, he isn’t the one calling offensive plays. Kyle Shanahan was the architect of Atlanta’s collapse, and Kellen Moore handled Dallas’ offense Thursday. Still, Quinn was the head coach in Super Bowl LI and Thursday night. He’s not a helpless being.
Good thing the Cowboys were facing Taysom Hill.