Jerry Jones never wanted to change coaches this season. As the blowout losses mounted, and Wade Phillips' defense was mostly to blame, the owner-general manager of the Dallas Cowboys had no choice.
Jones fired Phillips on Monday and promoted offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to take over the 1-7 club on an interim basis. Defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni was promoted to take over as defensive coordinator.
Jones decided enough was enough following a 45-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. It was the Cowboys’ fifth consecutive loss and the third straight that wasn’t even close.
“I recognized that after the game we just weren’t playing winning football and our best chance was to make a change,” Jones said.
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This is the first time Dallas, which started play in 1960, has made an in-season coaching change. Garrett also becomes the first former Cowboys player (reserve quarterback, 1993-99) to take over the job previously held by the likes of Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells.
The 44-year-old Garrett has never been a head coach at any level.
“Wade is no longer the coach. I am the coach and what we’re going to do going forward (is) get ready to have a great meeting, a great walkthrough and a great practice on Wednesday and give ourselves a chance to beat the Giants on Sunday,” Garrett said.
STEELERS 27, BENGALS 21
Antwaan Randle El threw a 39-yard touchdown pass off a trick play Monday night, and the Pittsburgh Steelers turned a fumble, a blocked punt and an interception into points before barely holding on for a 27-21 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati.
The Steelers (6-2) kept pace with Baltimore atop the AFC North by taking advantage of the Bengals’ many mistakes and overcoming a few of their own. Jeff Reed missed a field goal attempt with 3:59 remaining, giving Cincinnati a last chance.
The Bengals (2-6) drove to the 12 before Jordan Shipley was stripped of a fourth-down pass with 34 seconds to go, handing Cincinnati its fifth consecutive loss.
The NFL fined Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins $50,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams.
In a statement, league officials said Collins “violently and unnecessarily struck a defenseless receiver” in the neck and head area with his helmet, a “flagrant violation of player safety rules.”
Elsewhere, the league declined to punish any Philadelphia players for the hit that gave Indianapolis wide receiver Austin Collie a concussion.
Collie was hit by Eagles safety Quintin Mikell, then took a shot to the helmet from fellow safety Kurt Coleman’s helmet. Collie was taken off the field on a stretcher.
The NFL said the helmet-to-helmet contact was the result of Collie being driven toward Coleman by Mikell’s legal hit. Coleman was penalized for unnecessary roughness.
Veteran Green Bay cornerback Al Harris, whose overtime interception for a touchdown beat the Seahawks in a playoff game on Jan. 4, 2004, was released by the Packers. Harris, 35, had his 2009 season cut short by a knee injury. He never made it back to the field this season. Carolina quarterback Matt Moore has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and will need season-ending surgery. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, only months ago a backup, agreed to terms on a five-year contract that guarantees him $15 million and could be worth up to $34 million. The winless Bills lost two key players to injuries, wide receiver Roscoe Parrish (wrist) and inside linebacker Andra Davis (shoulder). Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another against the New York Jets, injured his right shoulder late in the overtime loss and his availability Sunday is uncertain. New York Giants center Adam Koets tore knee ligaments against Seattle and will miss the rest of the season. Fellow offensive lineman David Diehl has a partially torn hamstring that endangers his consecutive starts streak since he joined the Giants in 2003.