Tavon Austin might have made the most infamous fair catch call of the NFL season.
With a few seconds left in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys trailing, Austin called for a fair catch on a punt return. The problem is he had plenty of room to run. The odds of him breaking it all the way for a touchdown were slim, but when Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth pointed it out on the NBC broadcast, that became the play everyone was talking about after the Cowboys’ loss.
Over the next 24 hours, Austin and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett tried to explain what happened, and that led to more confusion. Garrett cleared it up on Wednesday.
Jason Garrett explains Tavon Austin’s fair catch decision
Austin said after the game he was doing what he was told to do, and Garrett said on Monday there was a miscommunication but Austin had the option to make a judgment call on the play. The reason the Cowboys would have wanted a fair catch would have been to preserve as much time as possible.
On Wednesday, Garrett left no doubt that it wasn’t Austin’s fault. Garrett took full blame, which a coach should do. Here’s what Garrett said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Jason Garrett got to the bottom of it. He told Tavon Austin it was his fault he didn't get the info communicated well.
He says he had no idea there was a narrative on the streets that he threw Austin under the bus. That was not his intent. He said miscommunication from outset https://t.co/PcoQlnX3ZS
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) November 13, 2019
That should put that issue to rest, though it will give more ammunition to those who endlessly criticize Garrett.
Garrett takes the blame
The fair catch wasn’t the biggest problem the Cowboys had. They couldn’t stop Dalvin Cook. There was some questionable play-calling earlier in the fourth quarter when Dallas got into the red zone. Again, even if Austin decided to return it, it probably doesn’t change the outcome of the game.
But it was a big loss for the Cowboys and everything in Dallas goes under the microscope after a loss. Garrett is used to that. Talk about his future has been going on for years and that hasn’t changed this year.
Give Garrett credit for taking the blame for a miscue. That probably won’t be the reaction in Dallas, however.
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