The Cowboys were clearly unhappy with the arbitration in Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the 49ers in the wild card. And the fans in Arlington clearly shared that frustration.
After the game, fans at AT&T Stadium hurled debris at officials as they left the field. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t seem to think that was a problem after learning the trash was directed at the umpires and not the Cowboys.
“Credit to them,” he said, according to Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken.
“The fans felt the same way we did,” added Prescott, according to Gehlken. “I guess that’s why the referees took off and got out of there so quickly. I think everyone is upset with the way this played out.”
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy also mocked the umpires, saying he felt they were too close to the ball. according to Sam Fortier of The Washington Post.
“I thought they would let these teams play today, but that’s what they have to answer,” McCarthy said, according to Fortier.
The Cowboys had two physical encounters with the referees. Early in the fourth quarter, Dallas converted a fake punt and shut out its punt unit until 16 seconds remained on the play clock, when it decided to trade the unit for its offense. An official prevented the Cowboys from breaking the ball until the 49ers had time to make substitutions, and by the time he came out, the play clock had run out and the Cowboys were flagged for delay in the game.
The second incident came late in the game, after Prescott executed a quarterback toss that started with 14 seconds left. With the clock still ticking, the Cowboys raced to the 24-yard line, where Prescott was tagged after a slip, and they lined up for a spike. Instead of handing the ball to an official, Prescott handed it to center Tyler Biadasz, who tried to catch it quickly. That delayed the referee seeing the ball. The umpire made his way to the line, grabbed the ball and marked it ready for play. By the time Biadasz passed it to Prescott for the spike, the game was over.
Referee Alex Kemp told pool reporter Todd Archer that the referee was staying behind the play to watch for possible penalties, and that part of the delay occurred when he was trying to locate the ball.
“The umpire was just setting the ball up correctly,” Kemp said. “He collided with the players when he was placing the ball because he was moving it to the right place.”
While the Cowboys may not have been happy with the arbitration, they didn’t do themselves any favors during the game. They were called up to tie a playoff record with 14 penalties for 89 yards after finishing the regular season with the most penalties in the NFL.