Now things were scary.
The Dallas Cowboys reduced Cincinnati's lead to two points on a Dez Bryant 27-yard touchdown, reducing the game's deficit to within a game-winning field goal. Over six minutes remain and the Cincinnati Bengals No. 1 priority is clock management, execution and the avoidance of silly penalties to make first down conversions difficult.
Milk the clock.
Instead of giving the Dallas Cowboys a heavy dose of power runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Andy Dalton took five drops on called passes. Three were completed, one incomplete and Cincinnati's final offensive player of the game was naturally a quarterback sack. So why not run the football? Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets Jay Gruden's response:
"Even if you get a field goal give them two minutes to score with Tony Romo, I've watched him enough on tape to know that's not a safe play either. I was trying to get a score to go up nine and put it out of reach.
"Yeah. If we'd have got one more first down, I'd have said, (cluck), he's got two minutes. Gone down to one minute, I'd have said, (duck) he's got one minute. That guy is a hell of a player and they've got a bunch of great weapons over there. Our defense is playing great but he's a hell of a player so I thought seven was much more important than 3."
Makes sense. There was plenty of time remaining in the game for the Cowboys to complete their comeback, which they did. Kill the clock mode wasn't a viable option yet and an aggressive Bengals offense remained on the menu. Save for the incomplete pass to Marvin Jones with 5:32 remaining, the clock only stopped once with Ernie Sims' injury at the 6:35 mark (it would have stopped with a run). In hindsight it was a non-factor. In fact the possession was moving along, reaching a third and four when a coverage sack forced the Bengals to punt the football away.