After the Cowboys' fifth home loss of 2017, one that decisively buried the club's playoff hopes, somewhere in between "How ya doin' guys" and "Merry Christmas," Jason Garrett was sweating. He was defensive about what had transpired in a 21-12 loss to Seattle, too effusive in praise of the visitors who produced more yards in penalties than in total offense and predictably uninterested in a discussion of his future.
But the worst thing Garrett said was the same as the worst thing Garrett (and coordinator Scott Linehan) did Sunday, which is fail to give Ezekiel Elliott the ball on first-and-goal at the 3. Or on second-and-goal at the 2. Those misguided decisions produced a holding penalty that threw things in reverse and then -- a different kind of inexplicable -- Dan Bailey missed a 34-yard field goal attempt that would have cut Seattle's lead to six points with 5:40 to go.
This game and this lost-cause season were over.
Jason's got to go.
On first down, the Cowboys went with the run-pass option, and Dak Prescott was stopped at the 2. Given a reprieve, the club stayed away from Elliott one more time (he finished with 97 yards on 24 carries in his return) and when Prescott threw incomplete on a rollout, Jason Witten was called for holding.
It all went south, and it was all so completely unnecessary and flat-out wrong given that this game was all about Zeke's return and the man had 73 yards in the first half, and you better get stopped taking your best shot instead of a weak alternative, but Garrett didn't see any of that.
"Those are easy [calls] afterwards, obviously Zeke is a very good player, we like him and we give him plenty of opportunities," Garrett said. "In that particular case, it didn't work out for us, and that was a big part of the game."
Somewhere in the middle of his answer, I mentioned that those were easy calls right at the time, too, but he was oblivious either to me or to that as having been a reasonable option.
As for whether taking a 13-3 team down to the 8-7 level and whether that could impact his future, Garrett said, "My job is to do the best job for this football team."
It's his job until Jerry Jones says it isn't, and the Cowboys owner wasn't interested in even entertaining that discussion Sunday, despite the fact this team will have one playoff win after seven full seasons with Garrett in charge. Only Marvin Lewis maintains employment with a similar record, and even his days seem to be numbered in Cincinnati.
Jones said he understood the feelings of frustration after losing a meaningful game, adding, "But I get to look at a lot of different things and have been around a lot of head coaches and coordinators. So I feel good about our head coach."
Do I need to tell Jerry that all he's really saying there is that he has too often settled for mediocrity at the important coaching positions, a fundamental reason it's now 22 years and counting without an NFC Championship Game appearance for his once-storied franchise?
Garrett isn't a bad person and he isn't an awful coach, but that's a pretty low bar for keeping someone around. There is nothing special on his résumé after 11 seasons as either the coordinator or head coach, mostly the latter. He has now coached four elimination games on either the final or next to last game of the season (2011, 2012, 2013, 2017) and lost all of them.
In fact, if the Cowboys lose to Philadelphia, this will be Garrett's fourth 8-8 team in seven seasons. That is spectacularly average.
Jones at least acknowledged what most of the 92,150 in the stadium and millions elsewhere were thinking at the critical moment in the fourth period of the critical game.
"On hindsight, I wish, we all wish that we'd tried Zeke in there," he said.
Yet he indicates he plans to stay with a coach who did not view that goal line play-calling as anything more than good calls that failed to work. His focus is to get his team prepared for a worthless game in Philadelphia, one that will mean absolutely nothing to the Eagles, too, as long as they defeat the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
"Finish is a really important word for us, each play, each day, each game and we certainly have to finish the season the right way, and we have the right kind of guys to do that," Garrett said.
Yeah, finish is a heck of a word when it comes to Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. There's always a chance in the coming weeks Jerry Jones will figure that out as well.
Jason's got to go.
Tim Cowlishaw, Staff Columnist, Sports Day, DMN