Garrett's passive leadership costly

At that point, time was the only thing more important than protecting the ball. Romo, who has been as conservative as Sen. John McCain this season, picked the worst possible time to return his gun-slinging ways.

On second-and-6, Romo narrowly avoided a defender off the edge. Then he whirled and fired a pass to Miles Austin, never known to fight for the ball, who was running a slant near midfield. Sam Shields undercut the pattern and made a finger-tip interception.

Eight plays later, Green Bay grabbed its only lead on Eddie Lacy's 1-yard touchdown run. It marked the Packers' fifth consecutive second-half touchdown drive.

"The idea was to run the ball and make them use the clock," Garrett said of the Cowboys' fourth-quarter strategy. "Run it, and then if we have to throw it, throw high percentage passes to keep the clock going and make them use their timeouts.

"Tony threw a pass on what we call a smoke -- or a flash -- that we have accompanying runs if he gets a bad look. That's what happened on the interception. It was a run call that he threw the ball on."

Romo had not thrown an interception since the first quarter against the New York Giants a month ago, a span of 130 passes. Romo said he switched the play because Green Bay had overloaded the side the Cowboys had planned to run.

So what.

Take the no gain or a negative play, at worst, and force the Packers to use their final timeout. Romo said the Cowboys wanted to be more aggressive on offense because of how Green Bay's offense was moving the ball.

"It's easy to look back now and say run the ball, run the ball, run the ball," Romo said. "At the same time, if they're going to have numbers, it's a tough situation.

"What I have to do a better job of is protecting the ball in that situation, and I didn't do a good enough job of that tonight. I will next time."

We've all heard that before. Still, the Cowboys control their playoff fate.

If they win their last two games they will make the playoffs. If not, no one will be surprised if Jerry changes his mind and fires Garrett.

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