Jason Garrett is in the deep fryer for assuming his kicker can make it from absurd lengths, but the Cowboys head coach could not have seen a penalty on his long snapper coming.
The Cowboys lost 20-17 despite being in position to tie the score against the Washington Redskins in the final seconds late on Sunday.
Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, who had made 16 consecutive field goals, hit the left upright as time expired on a 52-yard field goal that had plenty of distance.
The attempt should have been from 47 yards, but long snapper L.P. Ladouceur was called for a “snap infraction.”
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“That has never happened before,” Ladouceur said after the game. “That’s what I told the ref I do every time. I lay (the ball) down so I can snap it. I adjust it.”
On the 47-yard attempt, a Redskins defensive lineman jumped into the neutral zone, but “Apparently they saw our long snapper do something that they think caused the defensive lineman to be offsides,” Garrett said.
Garrett said he’s seen that called once or twice before in his career.
On NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America show, analyst Tony Dungy ripped the call.
“This was a terrible call. An illegal snap has to be an abrupt movement or something unusual,” he said. “The Dallas center does neither one of those. It’s not abrupt nor is it unusual. That is his normal motion. He did it on the snap before that. You look at the next snap and he does the exact same thing.”
Nonetheless, a penalty was called and Maher boinked the kick. His only previous miss as a Cowboy came on his first attempt in Week 1 at Carolina.
“I hit the upright and that was it,” Maher said. “The penalty had zero impact, I can promise you that. I felt I was very capable of making that kick.”
So did his head coach.
On the potentially game-tying, or game-winning, drive the offense reached the Washington 37-yard line with 28 seconds remaining. Despite having one timeout, the Cowboys went with an Ezekiel Elliott run that netted two yards.
“Once we got down to that point, the biggest thing that we wanted to do was maximize the field goal opportunity and run the ball, make some yards, use the timeout and then kick the game-tying field goal,” Garrett said.
That much worked.
The penalty was the wrinkle.