The Cowboys lose to the 49ers on a bizarre final play
Questions will be asked in the coming days about just what Dak Prescott and the Cowboys were thinking on their final play of the game.
In what was a strange game to laden with errors for both teams, perhaps the strangest of all was the very last play of the game.
The Cowboys and the 49ers put on a 'show'
If there is one thing that will be remembered about the Cowboys loss to the 49ers on Sunday night, it's the way in which both teams performed - or didn't. On the night Dallas tied an NFL playoff record with 14 penalties in the game. On the other side, it seemed as though San Francisco had taken pity on the Cowboys and decided to make things interesting, by registering a host of errors late into the game courtesy of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While either scenario raises eyebrows, nothing quite compares to the final play of the game in which the Cowboys literally ran the clock down on themselves, while smack dab in the middle of a comeback run.
For more from the NFL
What exactly did the Cowboys do?
Let's set the scene for you. With 32 seconds left on the clock, the Cowboys were down by six. The 49ers who had just false started on a fourth-and-one inside Dallas territory took the choice to punt. Dallas at this point were on the up. They quickly got themselves into scoring position after a flurry of successive passes. There was a 20-yard play involving Cedrick Wilson and CeeDee Lamb, a 10-yarder to Tony Pollard and a nine-yarder to Dalton Schultz. That brought the Cowboys to San Francisco's 41-yard line with 14 seconds left in the game. Then came the final play. With no remaining timeouts, the Cowboys called a QB draw which then saw Dak Prescott rush for a gain of 17 yards to San Francisco's 24-yard line. At this point the stadium was coming off the hinges, but the clock kept running.
How did the Cowboys run out of time?
This is where things get controversial. Once Prescott completed his run, the Cowboys - logically - hurried to the line of scrimmage in an effort to spike the ball, thereby stopping the clock which ideally would have set things up for one last play. The 49ers, sitting on their own 24 yard line, could do nothing but setup, wait and hope. Enter the referee. As is his responsibility, the match official must set the ball for each and every snap. This time, however, as he attempted to do so he collided with Prescott resulting in the ball being placed with one second on the clock. When the Cowboy's actually got in position and initiated the play, the clock was at zero and the referee declared the game over. Expect to hear a lot more about this.
Was it Dak Prescott or was it the referee?
The fallout of tonight's dramatic game will undoubtedly be intense. Just whose fault was it? Traditional reason would of course dictate that the Cowboys are to blame here. When one considers the multitude of chances that the 49ers afforded to Dallas in the late stages of the game, that they found themselves in such a bizarre situation to begin with begs a question. More over this was a game being played at home. That is saying nothing of the idea that they actually opted to call a QB draw with 14 seconds left and no timeouts as opposed to laying it on the line right there and then. Hail Mary anyone? Yet of course, there will inevitably be questions about the referee's role in the fiasco. Did he slow things down by coming in at the last second, literally sprinting from where he was to be alongside Prescott and the Cowboys after the sudden QB draw? Maybe so, but it doesn't change the fact that in the end, the Cowboys rode a host of errors to the moment that ended in a comical error which is to say, Dallas lost fair and square.