- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE -- Jason Garrett said it was the right play call. Jerry Jones thought it was conservative. Tony Romo was pleading to throw the ball.
Either way, the Cowboys settled for a field goal instead of taking a shot at the end zone late in the game in their 19-14 victory over Carolina on Sunday.
Faced with a third-and-9 from the Carolina 15, the Cowboys called a timeout with 3:39 to play. Afterward, Garrett called for a Phillip Tanner run, which went for five yards.
It seemed Garrett was settling for a field-goal attempt which Dan Bailey made from 28-yards out, giving Dallas a 16-14 lead.
"I thought that was a conservative way (to go)," Jones said. "That was a conservative call. But the big thing is, should we be having a conservative call? And I can make you a good case in point that it called for that. We wanted, we certainly wanted points. That’s for sure. Had to have it."
Garrett said he wanted to preserve the opportunity to make a field goal.
"Just try and get into our best play," he said. "What we try and do a lot of, without going into too many details, is implement plays and get the best play against the look that they have and they wanted to play big-time coverage there and I think it was three-man rush. Everybody was out of there and we got a play we liked at the line of scrimmage given that situation.
"I thought Tony handled that well. It's one of those plays you can hit, you see it every week in the National Football League, you get in there and if you get it blocked right and get it to the second level it really gives you a chance to score, so I wanted to preserve the opportunity there and kick that field goal and make it a two-(point) game. I thought our guys handed it well."
Garrett said the Panthers were playing a deep coverage, meaning they would give up anything underneath but not deep. On the previous play, Garrett called for a pass play to Dez Bryant that fell incomplete when he dropped the ball in the end zone. Garrett said that play was called because Carolina played man coverage and there were more opportunities to make plays.
Garrett didn't think he was playing things safe on third down but it was clear he was giving his defense a chance to secure the victory.
"Well, you always want to throw the ball as a quarterback," Romo said. "I think, in that situation, they played a really soft coverage, just Tampa 2, really soft, so it's what we did."