Mike McCarthy Blames Officiating For Cowboys’ (Comical) Delay Of Game Penalty

The delay of game penalty followed a converted fake punt


January 16, 2022

The Dallas Cowboys committed a postseason-record 14 penalties in their eventual NFC wild-card loss against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but some were a bit more head-scratching than others.

One such penalty occurred in the fourth quarter of their eventual 23-17 loss as the Cowboys were called for a delay of game that had many laughing at their expense. It came after Dallas converted a fake punt on fourth-and-5 to set the hosts up at San Francisco’s 36-yard line. However, the Cowboys wanted to keep the special teams unit on the field on first down in what head coach Mike McCarthy explained was a designed two-play sequence.

“We had a turbo play called. We were going to go line up and run another play so it was a two-play series set that was was called there on fourth down,” McCarthy said after the game, per the team.

McCarthy explained, however, that because the Cowboys had a player step on the field in celebration the officials determined that to be the same as a substitution and thus gave the 49ers a chance to substitute themselves. McCarthy said the Cowboys had no plans to substitute, as they depicted by keeping its special teams on the field, but then opted to send the offense out on the field — with the play clock running — given that the officials allowed San Francisco plenty of time to change personnel.

One particular official stood over the ball, again, with the clock winding and quarterback Dak Prescott hoping to get the snap off before it hit zero. Prescott was unable to do so and all momentum the Cowboys just gained with to the fake punt was overshadowed with yet another five-yard penalty.

“So then we went to offense, you know, and frankly I thought we were clearly, once again, standing over the ball. I think that there’s been games where you don’t get much standing over the ball when there’s a personnel challenge, but I think they overdid it a little bit today,” McCarthy said while referencing the officiating. “So they’re obviously conscious about it. We talked about in pregame. I think both teams were probably worried about the no-huddle, tempo type offenses because it was clearly clearly a focus of the umpire.”

The Cowboys ended up converting a 51-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to cut their deficit to 23-10.

It was one of the many self-inflicted errors and coaching mistakes that came back to impact the end result, and thus eliminate Dallas from the postseason.

Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images
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