Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he had never seen the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brice Butler previously called. Actually, it happened in a 2014 game against the Redskins – the game Tony Romo was knocked out in the third quarter after fracturing two transverse process in his back.
Washington was penalized 15 yards for exactly what Butler did: Logan Paulsen was cited for entering and then leaving the huddle. The Redskins were penalized 15 yards after a Colt McCoy incompletion.
“I had never heard of that one,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters after the Redskins’ 20-17 victory.
Gruden added he was told officials generally penalize for an illegal substitution – a 5-yard penalty – but they deemed the Redskins were trying to “deceive the other team.”
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“That’s a mistake on our part,” Gruden said. “A costly one. We had coaching errors on offense and defense that need to be correct in big games like that.”
The NFL confirmed Thursday that officials correctly applied the rule in Sunday’s Cowboys-Packers game.
The Cowboys faced a second-and-five from the Green Bay 37 on their second possession when Dak Prescott completed a 22-yard pass to Terrance Williams. But two officials threw flags, negating the gain and stepping off a 15-yard penalty on Butler.
The Cowboys expressed surprise at the penalty, but referee Tony Corrente said after the game that “it’s not an obscure rule; it’s just part of the substitution mechanics and part of the substitution rule.”
An NFL spokesman said the league adopted the rule – Rule 5, Section 2, Article 8e -- in 1955 for “offensive substitute who moves onto field inside field numerals and leaves without participating in one play.”