Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy doubled down in defending his team's ill-fated, season-ending playcall on Wednesday, telling reporters that their quarterback draw with 14 seconds left and zero timeouts was the right decision, based on preparation for the situation. The call backfired, and the Cowboys lost a wild-card thriller, 23-17, to the San Francisco 49ers.
McCarthy also mentioned during his post-mortem press conference that he's met with owner Jerry Jones twice since Sunday's loss, and doesn't consider his future with the team as an issue. Skepticism is warranted, though, as the championship-or-bust Cowboys suffered yet another first-round playoff exit and extended their Super Bowl drought to 26 years.
"McCarthy insists that they practice that all the time. Honestly, that makes me feel even worse about it. They practice that all the time?" former NFL lineman and current podcast host Ross Tucker told After Hours with Amy Lawrence on Thursday. "No one knew to hand the ball to the umpire, because he has to set the ball for the play?... There wasn't urgency to get lined up like you'd need, the process of giving the ball to the official like you'd need. It's disturbing...
"The thing that bothers me the most was hearing McCarthy and Dak Prescott complain after the game, publicly, about officiating. Dak said something really bad about fans throwing stuff at refs -- he apologized for that. But McCarthy said, 'I thought they'd let them play more.' I'm so bothered by that, because it's a lack of responsibility and accountability. That's kind of the Cowboys in a nutshell. That's why they have so many penalties..."
The Cowboys' botched play was controversial. Trailing by six, Prescott ran up the middle of the field for 17 yards, stopping at the 49ers' 24-yard line. A mad scramble to the line of scrimmage ensued, and Prescott was unable to stop the clock with a spike before time expired. Consequently, a last-second Hail Mary attempt never took place, and the 49ers survived. By rule, the offense can't snap the ball until an official has touched it to confirm the spot.
Although Prescott's questionable run will be remembered as a game-altering play, the Cowboys' highly-touted offense was inefficient throughout the day. Prescott threw for only 254 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and was sacked five times and hit on nearly half of his dropbacks. They also committed a whopping 14 penalties, and became just the second 500-point offense in NFL history to exit the playoffs in the wild-card round.
The entire NFL conversation between Tucker and Lawrence can be accessed in the audio player above.