The Dallas Cowboys lost a heartbreaker to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card game on Sunday. After trailing 23-7 late in the third quarter, the Cowboys mounted a comeback. With seconds remaining and no timeouts, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott rushed up the middle. As he attempted to snap the ball and save one final play for a shot at the end zone, time expired.
After the game, some people pointed out that the referee spotting the ball appeared to be way out of position, including ESPN's J.A. Adande.
Why is the official responsible for resetting the ball so far behind the play?
Why does it feel like everyone got everything wrong in this game?
Cowboys AND 49ers should be eliminated from the playoffs. Packers advance to the NFC Championship pic.twitter.com/jLEDBAzXuQ
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 17, 2022
The referee is seen at the end of the play at the 45-yard line running toward the new line of scrimmage. He did not get there and spot the ball in time for the Cowboys to spike it. But it was always a gamble rushing the ball up the middle with seconds left and no timeouts.
Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky broke down the play, calling the play call inexcusable. He went so far as to say that Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy should be fired for allowing this play call to happen.
This is an awful play call and awful execution for @dallascowboys
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 17, 2022
After Prescott was tackled, he stood up and handed the ball to his center. Orlovsky pointed out that no quarterback has ever been taught to hand the ball to a teammate, but instead to find and give it directly to the referee.
It's another gut-wrenching loss for Cowboys fans. Dallas has now gone 11 straight playoff appearances without reaching the NFC Championship game. That's the longest drought since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. The Cowboys were one-and-done in seven of those seasons.