There are rough days at the office, and then there's just flat out not showing up to the office. The officiating crew on the Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints game chose the latter on Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.
Well, technically, they were in attendance, but some of the calls suggest they were completely sleep at the wheel, and the previously 10-1 Saints received the brunt of it. While you could make a case for all of the questionable calls as the worst, by far the most egregious came at a crucial point late in the game, when the Cowboys, up 13-10 and looking to apply the dagger, faced a 3rd & 5 at the 50-yard line with 5:54 remaining. A first down would allow them to run some more clock and potentially score a touchdown or at least a field goal while leaving very little time for New Orleans to answer. Dallas QB Dak Prescott went to his safety valve in Cole Beasley, who appeared to make the catch around the 48-yard line while being tackled, but was able to turn up field at the last second and lunge for the first down. The refs said move the chains, the only problem was Beasley was a full yard short with his knee down:
Yes, the referees did call that a first down. And before you ask "why didn't Sean Payton just challenge it?", he couldn't. Payton had already used both of his challenges, winning the first early in the game but losing the second, leaving him without one in this big spot. Because it was outside of two minutes and not a scoring play, they couldn't go to the booth to review it. This makes me laugh considering the fact that there are no less than 500 reviews during an NFL game, yet during arguably the biggest play they're just like "nah, let's blatantly get this wrong." Amazing.
Following this obvious blown call, the Cowboys were able to run an additional two-plus minutes off the clock, forcing the Saints to use two timeouts in the process. This included another borderline call on 3rd & 8 at the Saints 22-yard line, when New Orleans brought the house and Prescott threw the ball away, but safety Vonn Bell grazed his precious facemask and got a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer. Yes, it's against the rules, but it was so ticky tack and you hate to see it decide the game, especially after they didn't call this helmet-to-helmet on Alvin Kamara a few drives earlier:
Nothing to see there. Bad night for the refs, tougher night for the Saints. Great night for Dallas fans (and +7 Cowboys bettors).