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Former Arizona Cardinals standout wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had no problem with the call. It was the execution that bothered him. Not only did Dallas Cowboys botch the final play of last weekend’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but they also self-destructed throughout the game. According to Fitzgerald, that’s not uncommon for a Mike McCarthy-coached team.

Larry Fitzgerald approved the Dallas Cowboys’ call, faulted the execution

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals makes a reception against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 26, 2020, in Glendale, Arizona. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott hoped to gain some yardage for one final play last week against the 49ers. He gained too many, and it proved costly.

With 14 seconds left and his team trailing by six, Prescott, with no timeouts remaining and the ball settled on the San Francisco 41-yard line, scampered 24 yards to the San Francisco 17. The problem was that the Cowboys were unable to get off another snap as time ran out, ending their season.

On the latest episode of the Let’s Go podcast with Jim Gray, Fitzgerald said he was fine with the call, but Prescott just ran too far.

“I actually didn’t have a problem with (the call),” Fitzgerald said. “Dak just scrambled too far. He should have gone down five, seven yards earlier. It would’ve saved about two or three seconds on the clock.

“I understand what they were trying to do — trying to get a closer shot to the endzone — but it was poorly executed.”

The No. 6 49ers eliminated the third-seeded Cowboys, and what appeared to be a promising season in Dallas quickly went down the tank.

Larry Fitzgerald: ‘This just underscores the issues that Mike McCarthy’s teams have had in the playoffs’

The Cowboys did not play smart football Sunday. Even if Prescott has been able to spike the ball in time, there’s no guarantee Dallas scores on the final play. The Cowboys self-destructed all day with 14 penalties and that doesn’t include the blunder of being able to get the ball set for one final play.

“This just underscores the issues that Mike McCarthy’s teams have had in the playoffs,” Fitzgerald said.

McCarthy’s teams have struggled in the postseason. Not all of the heartbreaking losses can be pinned on him, but he’s seen some tough ones and he’s been in many games where his team was the clear favorite, only to come up short. Fitzgerald remembers that being the case.

Gray went a step further and asked the future Hall of Fame wide receiver if Mike McCarthy, the head coach of the Green Bay Packers for 13 seasons, might be why Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers only has one Super Bowl ring.

“I hate to bring it up like that but you do have to look at it,” Fitzgerald said. “Aaron is arguably one of the greatest players in history. Had some very good teams go to the playoffs. I actually faced him two times — one time in ’09 and another time in 2015. I would say both of those times, the Packers were the better football team if you look at it on paper.

“It’s hard not to say that did not come into play. There’s always been some issue with mismanagement of clock or poorly-executed things on offense or defense or special teams that cost the Packers and now are costing the Cowboys.”

Fitzgerald said Dak Prescott’s comment about fans throwing trash at the referees was in jest

After the game, Cowboys fans littered the stadium with trash, much of it aimed at the game officials. Reporters asked the quarterback about it after the game. Prescott initially expressed some disappointment in the fans for throwing debris, but when a reporter said a lot of it was aimed at the referees, Prescott quipped, “A credit to them then.”

Prescott’s comment drew immediate laughter, but many later blasted him for making light of the issue. He issued an apology on Twitter, saying, “I deeply regret the comments I made regarding the officials after the game on Sunday. I was caught up in the emotion of a disappointing loss and my words were uncalled for and unfair.”

Fitzgerald said he understood the situation and believed Prescott’s comments were made in jest.

“I can understand when he’s sitting at that podium and he’s frustrated,” Fitzgerald said. “His season has been taken from him, and he feels that it’s somebody else’s fault. It’s very easy for somebody to say something like that.

“Listening to the interview, he was saying it in jest. He was laughing. The media members were laughing. I know there’s been some ugly experiences with fans and players. You look back at what happened with the Pistons (Malice at the Palace), and you don’t want issues to happen like that, but I think it was all in fun.”

Prescott followed it up with two more tweets, the final one saying, “That was a mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry.”


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