Jerry Jones had no business on sideline
Jason Garrett knew how to handle injured Cowboys, but owner showed him up
He played his defensive starters for as long as he could, pulled a nicked-up Felix Jones after a handful of snaps, told Tony Romo to sit down after an injury left his throwing hand swollen, and he got the energy needed from his team overall.
What Garrett and the Cowboys didn't need was a visit from Jerry Jones on the sideline after Romo got hurt.
Jones is the owner/general manager and can do what he wants. He's one of the most powerful men in sports -- not just the NFL, in all of sports.
But Jones needed to step away and let the process happen for Garrett.
Instead, there was Jones on the sideline in the first quarter talking to his coach about what was going on with his quarterback and the result of the Giants-Jets game, which impacted the Cowboys' playoff chances.
"I was bringing him up to date on information I personally had from where our situation was, not only relative to where the Jets were but also with what I knew to be the case from being down there in the dressing room when Tony was being X-rayed," Jones said.
Garrett didn't need that.
"We had some discussions going into the ballgame about certain players," Garrett said. "The Tony Romo thing obviously was not an issue prior to the game, but we had a few other guys on our team who were going to go and get themselves ready to play mentally and physically to play in the ballgame. But if circumstances had changed, we were going to make a different decision with them."
So why would Jones go to the field to give Garrett updates on Romo, whose X-rays were negative, and the Giants-Jets result?
"That's probably a question you need to ask him," Garrett said.
Here was Jones' answer:
"Basically told him about Tony and what we were doing with him. Fact that Tony really wanted to get back in and he could grip the ball. That probably wasn't the thing to do for him, to be back out there. Plus, we all knew that the Jets had lost, so we knew what was at stake in this game. That had a bearing to some degree on how we played some of the guys."
The Cowboys were in a weird position.
The result of the earlier Giants-Jets game was still up in the air when the Cowboys and Eagles kicked off. A Giants loss would have meant the Cowboys could clinch the NFC East by beating the Eagles.
But a Giants victory would mean the NFC East title goes to the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game in the season finale, regardless of the Cowboys-Eagles result.
So when the Giants pulled away from the Jets late and won 29-14, it rendered the result of the Cowboys-Eagles game insignificant in the NFC East title race. After Romo suffered his hand injury on the Cowboys' third offensive play, confusion settled in when calm should have.
The confusion came from Jones when he got to the sideline. It was OK for Jones to be in the trainer's room with Romo, but it wasn't necessary for him to meet with Garrett during the game.
Garrett knows what to do in that situation.
He made an informed decision regarding what to do with numerous injured players, including DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Gerald Sensabaugh, Kyle Kosier, Mike Jenkins and Felix Jones. Only Jones sat the rest of the game after the Giants' result was known.
Jerry Jones isn't some out-of-control owner with no filter, but he looked that way Saturday.
You don't want to undermine your coach, and we don't believe that was Jones' intent. But he should have stayed off the sideline.
It gave the appearance that Jones didn't trust his coach to make the right decisions, even though Garrett did handle the roster properly.
"Those are decisions that are made by Jason, ultimately," Jones said. "I certainly agree with how we played the game [Saturday]."
It just didn't seem that way.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.