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During the middle game of the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend’s Sunday trifecta, there was another controversial moment involving the officials that may have affected the game’s outcome. A slow spot by the umpire at the end of the Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers match denied the Dak Prescott and company a chance to run one last play and, after the game, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was all too happy to give reporters the soundbite they wanted about the polarizing play.

Umpire Ramon George’s inability to spot the ball ended the Dallas Cowboys comeback vs. the San Francisco 49ers

During Sunday’s highly-anticipated Wild Card matchup between the traditional NFC rivals, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, the team let the Niners jump out to an early 13-0 lead.

Toward the end of the third quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo and his team extended their lead to 23-7. A fourth-quarter field goal followed by an interception by the Dallas D set up a 5-yard Dak Prescott TD run. That play got the game down to one score with eight minutes to go.

The Cowboys failed to score on their penultimate drive. The team had to punt the ball back to San Fran with just 1:42 to go. However, after some replay help and a penalty on the 49ers Trent Williams, the ‘Boys, got the ball back with no timeouts and 32-seconds to play.

Prescott completed a hook-and-lateral and two short passes to get the team to the San Francisco 41-yard line with 14 seconds to play.

The next play was a designed QB draw where Prescott scampered down to the 24-yard line. He slid with about nine seconds left on the clock, and the offense lined up to spike the ball.

Umpire Ramon George ran to spot the ball — a necessity under the rules — and got held up. He ran into the back of Prescott and struggled to get through the Cowboys’ offensive line.

Center Tyler Biadasz didn’t get his hand on the ball until there was just one second left on the clock. He snapped the ball but time expired before the team got the clock-stopping play off.

It was a dramatic, heart-breaking loss for the Dallas Cowboys. And, while there is plenty of debate as to who cost the Cowboys a final play — the officials or Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for calling the run — McCarthy was all too happy to throw the officials under the bus after the clock hit zeroes.

Mike McCarthy took a shot at the officials after the controversial final play

At his postgame press conference, Mike McCarthy defended the decision to have Dak Prescott run a draw with no timeouts and time winding down. He said that the play call was “the right decision” based on the sideline defense that the San Francisco 49ers were running in the game’s final seconds.

The initial question was about whether or not 14 seconds is enough time to run that type of play. McCarthy happily took the bait and laid the responsibility for the clock running out on referee Alex Kemp’s crew:

The execution between us and the officiating spotting the ball obviously wasn’t in tune. We shouldn’t have had any problem getting the ball spotted there. I’ll just – is that the quote you’re looking for?

Mike McCarthy on the officials not spotting the ball quickly

Even if the official spotted the ball in time for the Cowboys to run one more play, the chances of Prescott completing a 25-yard touchdown pass on a 49ers’ prevent defense are pretty slim. Still, it’s understandable that McCarthy — in the heat of the moment after the game — was upset that his offense never got that chance.

That said, with time to reflect in the coming days and weeks, McCarthy may realize what an incredible gamble it was to run that type of play in that situation and soften his stance on the officials’ efforts.

He just better hope owner Jerry Jones doesn’t think too hard about who’s to blame for the outcome in the coming days and weeks.

What’s next for the Dallas Cowboys? 

Head Coach Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys disputes a penalty with side judge Laird Hayes #125 in overtime of the NFL match between Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 25, 2021 in Arlington, Texas.
Mike McCarthy | Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stepped up to the media’s microphones directly after the game. He shared that he was “extraordinarily disappointed” with the outcome.

Unsurprisingly, Jones praised the front office (which consists of him and his son, Stephen) for assembling talent. He also seemingly criticized the coaching staff in the process. The outspoken owner told reporters (h/t The Athletic’s @jonmachota), “When you get this combination of players together, you need to have success.”

While Jones often shoots from the hip, especially in raw moments like the one on Sunday, he’s right this time. The Jones’ have done an excellent job amassing talent. The problem Sunday — and several Sundays prior — is that the coaching staff doesn’t always seem to get the best, most consistent play out of that talent.

As the offseason now begins much earlier than Jones anticipated, he has some major decisions to make.

Right now, Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are two of the hottest head-coaching candidates in the NFL. Is he willing to let them go and hand the reigns fully to McCarthy and two (possibly) lesser coordinators?

The last time Jones elevated his OC (Jason Garrett) to coach-in-waiting, creating a lame-duck head coach (Wade Phillips), it didn’t go so well.

It’s a tough decision to fire a coach who went 12-5 and won the NFC East running away. But that might just be what Jones has to do this offseason in order to find a coach who can guide the talent he assembles to the promised land for the first time since 1995.

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