Mike McCarthy’s first big test came early on in his Dallas Cowboys career.
In a fourth-and-3 situation and his team down three with about 12 minutes remaining, McCarthy opted to draw up a pass to rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb instead of kicking a field goal and potentially tying the game at 20.
Lamb caught it, but was short of the sticks, which eventually turned into a 20-17 loss against the Los Angeles Rams in week one.
“You have to trust your players,” McCarthy told reporters after the game. ”First time out in a game, I wanted our offensive guys to play wide open. We have that capability. I’ll pull back when I feel like it’s in the best interest of the team. I recognize it was a three-point game. We still had a lot of time left. I just felt like it was a huge momentum play for us at that particular time.”
Despite mixed reaction to the play call on social media, many Cowboys players were supportive of their new coach.
“Coach has a plan and it’s our job to go out there and follow it,” Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It was a good play call.”
“I had the drag, at first I was at the sticks and I came back for the ball and I got tackled and obviously I got tackled,” Lamb said.
As time progressed, the Cowboys would eventually get another chance to either tie or win the game with about 30 seconds remaining in the game. WR Michael Gallup would then make a long catch from quarterback Dak Prescott that would have put Dallas in the red zone with seconds remaining, but got called back because of offensive pass interference.
“If they hadn’t have called that, I would have been really upset,” said Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was defending Gallup at the time. “That was clear as day, in my opinion.”
The Cowboys will have a chance to redeem themselves next week when they play in their home debut against the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at 12 p.m.