Packers beat Cowboys 34-31 to reach NFC title game
Nobody wants to blame the officials after a loss, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly weren’t pleased with Tony Corrente and his crew following a 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
“I’m not going to get into that at all,” owner Jerry Jones said before getting into it. “They had two penalties? What did we have? [Six]. Yes, yes, but I thought it was glaring. I’m going to give their players and coaches credit for winning this game.
“They beat a good team out here tonight, a real good team and one I think will be a good team.”
The Cowboys were flagged six times for 50 yards, while the Packers had three penalties for 22 yards.
But the Cowboys were certainly ill-timed and costly.
On their second offensive possession of the game, the Cowboys drove into Packers territory and had a second-and-5 from the Green Bay 37. Quarterback Dak Prescott hit Terrance Williams for a 22-yard gain, seemingly putting the Cowboys in great position to score.
But wide receiver Brice Butler was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for entering the huddle and exiting without staying in for the play.
“That was crazy. I was confused,” Butler said. “I was like, ‘They said my number?’ The ref told me you can’t do that and I was like, ‘What?’ That’s a call they can call in every game on every team.”
Coach Jason Garrett said he’d never seen that penalty called before.
“That was a critical play early on … it ended up being about a 30- or 40-yard penalty,” Garrett said. “Obviously we didn’t handle that situation well enough.”
Prescott also didn’t understand the call, saying he’d have to study up on the rule book more this offseason.
Corrente talked about the decision to a pool reporter after the game.
“They brought in a two-receiver set on a substitution, and number 19 [Butler] was one of those two players and came into the huddle, stayed in the huddle, then departed,” Corrente said. “He was substituted for. He has to stay either in the game or they can call a timeout to get out of it. Of course, he went out. It’s not an obscure rule, it’s just part of the substitution mechanics and part of the substitution rule.”
In the second quarter, the Cowboys had another critical call go against them. Cornerback Morris Claiborne was flagged for illegal use of hands that kept a Packers offensive drive alive.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass to Davante Adams that would have forced a punt, but that penalty helped the Packers turn it into a touchdown drive.
“I didn’t get any explanation for that,” Claiborne said. “I knew from the beginning I didn’t hit him in the face, though. I guess the official that called it was standing from behind. I knew I jumped across and jammed him, and then I guess the way he went back made it look like my hands were in his face.”
Another costly penalty came in the fourth quarter when cornerback Anthony Brown was called for pass interference on an interception by safety Jeff Heath.
“Calls are gonna be calls, you’ve just got to keep playing,” Brown said. “We just ended up on the wrong side is all.”
Said Corrente: “The ball was in the air. Once the ball is in the air, and he grabbed him, which normally would be a defensive holding, now becomes a pass interference. It prevented him from continuing down to make a play on the ball.”