The Cowboys were clearly unhappy with the officiating in Sunday’s 23-17 wild-card loss to the 49ers. And the fans in Arlington clearly shared in that frustration.
After the game, fans at AT&T Stadium threw debris at the officials as they were leaving the field. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t seem to think that was a problem after learning the trash was aimed at the officials and not the Cowboys.
“Credit to them,” he said, according to Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken.
“The fans felt the same way as us,” Prescott added, according to Gehlken. “I guess that’s why the refs took off and got out of there so fast. I think everybody is upset with the way this thing played out.”
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy also took a shot at the officiating, saying he felt they were standing over the ball too much, according to The Washington Post’s Sam Fortier.
“I thought they would let these teams play today, but that’s for them to answer,” McCarthy said, per Fortier.
The Cowboys twice had physical encounters with the officials. Early in the fourth quarter, Dallas converted on a fake punt and left its punting unit out until 16 seconds remained on the play clock, when it decided to switch out the unit for its offense. An official kept the Cowboys from snapping the ball until the 49ers had time to make substitutions, and by the time he stepped out, time had run out on the play clock and the Cowboys were flagged for delay of game.
The second incident came at the end of the game, after Prescott ran a quarterback draw that began with 14 seconds left. With the clock still running, the Cowboys rushed up to the 24-yard line, where Prescott was marked down after a slide, and lined up for a spike. Instead of handing the ball to an official, Prescott handed it to center Tyler Biadasz, who tried to quickly snap it. That delayed the umpire spotting the ball. The umpire muscled his way up to the line, grabbed the ball and marked it ready for play. By the time Biadasz snapped it to Prescott for the spike, the game was over.
Referee Alex Kemp told pool reporter Todd Archer that the umpire was staying behind the play to watch for any potential penalties, and that part of the delay came as he was trying to spot the ball.
“The umpire was simply spotting the ball properly,” Kemp said. “He collided with the players as he was setting the ball because he was moving it to the proper spot.”
While the Cowboys might not have been happy with the officiating, they did themselves no favors during the game. They were called for a playoff record-tying 14 penalties for 89 yards after finishing the regular season with the most penalties in the NFL.