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ARLINGTON, Texas – A pair of Dallas Cowboys felt they were playing against two opponents on Sunday: the Arizona Cardinals and officials.
The Cowboys lost to the Cardinals 25-22, hurting their playoff seeding, and were marked 10 times for 88 yards by Scott Novak’s team, including four offensive team penalties that negated two first-down runs.
“It’s just we could not get a rhythm,” wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said. “The judges would not let us have a rhythm.”
Defensive end added DeMarcus Lawrence: “I want to let the NFL do it. I know it’s an opportunity we see both of these teams in the playoffs. You know the NFL can hopefully sit down with their team, review the movie, learn from their mistakes and get better at it. “
It was the fourth time this season that the Cowboys have received double-digit penalties and the most they have had since a 14-yard, 166-yard day against the Las Vegas Raiders at Thanksgiving, when both teams had complaints about Shawn Hochuli’s crew.
“If you look around the league, it’s not just the first time this has happened,” said linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. “There are other matches around the league that have been dictated by, I do not know if it is incompetence or what it is, but it does not make sense to me. I feel it is not difficult to correct it , especially if it’s like that. obviously on the field and it’s so obvious why someone upstairs does not radio down and be like, hey, get this right. It’s not hard. It’s just the game’s ethics – to get it right. Like hey, you made a mistake here. Fix it. Here’s the right call. “
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he expected there would be flags after seeing the team’s report on Novak’s crew, but he was not as critical of the referees as he was after the Raiders loss. Novak’s crew had an average of 8.2 penalties per game, second highest after Carl Cheffers’ crew (8.3), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“This group calls a lot of ticky-tack,” Jones said, capturing himself before adding, “They call a lot of penalties, and that would be a concern for us today.”
Added coach Mike McCarthy: “I think the timing of our penalties, for us personally, was something that was a challenge for us to overcome.”
The Cowboys were called for four offensive team penalties compared to just one at the Cardinals, which the Dallas defensive line noted.
“Playing against the referees again, as usual, seems like an event every week,” said Randy Gregory, who had an animated discussion with an official as he went to the locker room during the break. “We just have to tune it out and just deal with it.”
Lawrence said he was called for an offside penalty after the game clock hit zero, but he and Vander Esch were more upset that a fumble in the fourth quarter was ruled out of contact with the Cowboys trailing 25-22. Because the Cowboys were out of timeouts before the 2-minute warning, they were unable to challenge the piece, even though replays were far from 100 percent clear that the piece would have been overturned.
“I just do not understand how with the technology we have today, even if we do not have timeouts or whatever it may be, we can call it a wild challenge and challenge it. It’s so obvious,” said Vander Esch. “Certain things are so clear in the matches that the referees mess up why they do not fix it. It makes no sense to me. For me, we play more against the referees than we are the other team. … That’s what it is. “… It’s been several times this season.”
Dak Prescott was a little more diplomatic.
“Yes, we will play against anyone. We will play against 11 and the others if we have to,” Prescott said. “I’m used to it, honestly. I do not know if we’ve ever got things that necessarily go our way, but we can not sit there and cry over it. You just have to play the hand you get and “Try to overcome these things and do not put yourself in those situations. So we can do a better job of not putting ourselves in those situations and keeping them out of the game.”