The Cowboys could have – should have – run out most of the time before the Vikings’ final, near-game-tying score. Two mistakes cost them a first down that prevented the Cowboys from bleeding all but about the final 30 seconds.
After a 1-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott on first down with 2:53 remaining, Prescott scrambled for what initially was ruled a 10-yard gain and a first down.
“I thought the play that he made at the end where they called him short of the first down marker, was just a big-time play,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday.
However, the rookie quarterback slid feet first, and replay confirmed he was a yard short of the first down after a Vikings challenge. Prescott said after the game he had learned a lesson. He either needed to dive in head first or slide later when he was sure he was past the marker.
Officials mark the ball at the spot where the player starts his slide, not where he ends up.
“I thought I had the first down when I slid,” Prescott said. “It was a good call by them to review it. I guess I was giving myself up for the first down.”
The Cowboys, though, still had a chance for the first down, facing a third-and-one. Instead, an aborted snap resulted in a 3-yard loss.
“Don’t have a definitive answer, but it appeared like it was just a miscommunication as to what the snap count was,” Garrett said. “We’re used to the silent count, and the ball just came up maybe a little bit early, typically what happens you visit with the players about that more extensively on a day like this [off day Friday], so we’ll get a chance to have those conversations until Monday. Just a little miscommunication between Dak and Travis [Frederick].”
Prescott said he wasn’t ready for the snap from Frederick, taking responsibility for the miscue. It’s the first snap Frederick has not delivered cleanly this season.
“That is one of those we need to go talk over,” Prescott said. “I think we were just messed up on the timing. Maybe we thought we needed to rush the snap. My hands were not ready. I need to be ready at all times. It is on me for not being ready.’
Elliott recovered the fumble, averting disaster, but the Vikings had 2:09 instead of around the 30 seconds they would have had if the Cowboys had picked up the first down.
The Vikings drove 65 yards for a touchdown but the would-be-tying 2-point conversion failed.