Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditFriday, January 21, 2022

Stories by Grey Papke:

Mike McCarthy explains Cowboys’ questionable final play call

Mike McCarthy coaching the Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy will be questioned for his final play call in the team’s Wild Card loss to San Francisco on Sunday. He maintains that the team was ready to execute it, however.

McCarthy controversially ran a quarterback draw from the 49ers’ 40-yard line with 14 seconds left and no timeouts in the fourth quarter, with Dallas in need of a touchdown to tie the game. Dak Prescott got 17 yards, but time ran out on the Cowboys before Prescott could spike the ball.

After the game, McCarthy said the Cowboys practiced the play on a weekly basis, and anticipated getting another snap. The coach added that he expected more time to be put on the clock after a review as well.

In reality, McCarthy’s explanation demonstrates why the play call was so bad. In any event, an official must touch the ball to set it before there can be another snap. Prescott essentially blew by that rule, which burned vital seconds and made it much more difficult for referee Ramon George to do his job.

The Cowboys can practice the play all they want. The call simply involves far too many variables that they could not account for in a game situation, such as whether the officials and the defense can set up quickly enough. That is simply too much risk for a play that was never going to give the Cowboys the reward they needed.

Photo: Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott admits to playing through significant injury

Ezekiel Elliott in pads

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been hobbled for a significant portion of the season. After Sunday’s playoff loss, he finally revealed exactly what he has been dealing with.

Elliott admitted to reporters following the Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to San Francisco that he had been playing with a partially torn PCL. The running back added that he did not anticipate needing surgery to correct the issue.

While it was no secret that Elliott was hobbled, the Cowboys never divulged much about the true nature of his injury. Elliott never wanted time off, and Jerry Jones was always bullish about his health and production. Considering Elliott only hit the 50 rushing yard mark twice in his final nine games, it’s pretty obvious he was impacted more than Dallas wanted everyone to believe.

Elliott was limited to 31 yards on 12 carries in Sunday’s playoff loss. His backup, Tony Pollard, only got four touches in the running game.

Photo: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys cost themselves in playoffs with unreal 14 penalties

Mike McCarthy coaching the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys suffered a heartbreaking playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but in many ways they had no one to blame but themselves.

The Cowboys fell just short in a 23-17 loss, but one stat stood out more than the rest. Dallas took an astonishing 14 penalties in the loss, totaling 89 yards. The 14 penalties tied a franchise record for a playoff game.

The flags started early, when defensive lineman Randy Gregory committed a neutral zone infraction on the first play from scrimmage. Several of the penalties essentially stopped Cowboys drives in their track. Perhaps the most damaging of them was a first quarter holding call that wiped out what would have been a 32-yard reception by CeeDee Lamb. Even the penalties that weren’t as harmful were pretty embarrassing, too.

Dallas’ final penalty was also a costly one. Gregory, again, committed a blatant hold with just over a minute and a half left to give the 49ers an automatic first down.

Without the penalty, the Cowboys would have had the chance to get off the field and get the ball back with over a minute left. Dallas still got the stop, but they instead had just 32 seconds to try to drive all the way downfield for a touchdown.

In games like this where the flags pile up, it can sometimes be the result of overzealous refereeing. That wasn’t the case here. The bulk of the calls that went against Dallas were blatant and impossible to ignore. Combine that with some very bizarre decisions, and you have a Cowboys team that mismanaged the game, lacked discipline, and deserved to lose.

Photo: Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field before the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys make embarrassing mistake after pulling off fake

Mike McCarthy upset

The Dallas Cowboys’ performance in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game was essentially summed up by one sequence in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys were trailing the San Francisco 49ers 23-7 early in the fourth quarter and faced a 4th and 5 from their own 48-yard line. Dallas sent out its punt team, much to the frustration of the crowd, but it turned out to be a fake. The play succeeded, with punter Bryan Anger finding cornerback C.J. Goodwin for a 16-yard reception and a first down.

Instead of building on that momentum, the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot after the conversion. The special teams unit initially remained on the field on first down in an apparent effort to get the 49ers to burn a timeout. When that didn’t happen, the Cowboys rushed the special teams unit off the field with about 20 seconds left on the play clock. The offense got on the field, but were unable to get set and snap the ball in time, resulting in a delay of game penalty.

Some were quick to blame the officials for the delay of game, as the Cowboys essentially were not allowed to snap the ball. However, the referees were obligated to allow the 49ers to make their own defensive substitutions after the Cowboys made their.

FOX Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho also pointed out that Goodwin actually slowed the Cowboys down by getting off the field late because he was too busy talking trash.

Whatever happened did not go according to plan. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s reaction was priceless.

Blaming the referees becomes much more difficult when the Cowboys wasted half the play clock trying to goad the 49ers into using a timeout. Even if they’d succeeded, the reward wasn’t even that great. The 49ers led by 16 points at the time. Their timeouts simply didn’t matter that much. The extra time the Cowboys burned, plus the five-yard loss on the delay of game penalty that came about as a result, would have been far more valuable. The entire sequence came across as the Cowboys being entirely too cute.

McCarthy’s game management has sometimes been criticized, and there were reports that his job might not be totally safe in the event of an early playoff exit. If there’s any truth to that, this will not have done much to help his case.

Nick Bosa suffers possible head injury against Cowboys

Nick Bosa injury

The San Francisco 49ers got a significant scare Sunday when Nick Bosa suffered an apparent injury against the Dallas Cowboys.

Bosa was engaged in a block with Dallas offensive lineman La’el Collins during the second quarter Sunday when he tried to lunge toward quarterback Dak Prescott for a sack. As he did so, he took an inadvertent shot to the head area from teammate D.J. Jones, and was visibly shaken up after the play.

Bosa was able to get up and walk off under his own power, though he did head to the medical tent. He also proceeded to the locker room early, though that could easily have been because the 49ers had the ball and the first half was about to end.

As the injury happened just before halftime, there was not a lot of clarity on Bosa’s status for the remainder of the game. If he is at all limited in the second half, it will be a significant setback for San Francisco. Bosa was the Niners’ best defensive lineman by some distance during the regular season, collecting 15.5 sacks and 32 QB hits in 17 games.

Nick Sirianni makes firm statement about Jalen Hurts’ future

Jalen Hurts

The Philadelphia Eagles have not always seemed committed to Jalen Hurts as their long-term quarterback, but it certainly sounds as though he has won over his head coach.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni gave Hurts a significant vote of confidence Sunday even after Philadelphia’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sirianni said he feels “really good” about the future of the quarterback position with Hurts running the show.

The decision on the Eagles’ quarterback situation is not solely down to Sirianni, but this can’t be bad news for Hurts. After all, they were being linked to other prominent quarterbacks at times during the season, suggesting Hurts still had some convincing to do.

Sirianni’s comments come following a game in which Hurts didn’t actually perform all that well. Still, the Eagles look fully committed to him as their quarterback of the future.

Video: Troy Aikman wants to call Cowboys’ playoff game so badly

Troy Aikman in a suit

Troy Aikman didn’t seem too happy with his assignment Sunday during the NFC Wild Card game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With the Buccaneers up big in the second half, FOX announcers Aikman and Joe Buck began to discuss the afternoon’s upcoming game between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. That game was on CBS, much to Aikman’s obvious chagrin.

“That’s going to be a great game, a really good game. There’s a lot of people that would like to be calling that game,” Aikman said.

Aikman is a former Cowboy, and FOX does get the rights to the overwhelming majority of the team’s regular season games. The Niners-Cowboys matchup is an intriguing one as well for a lot of reasons. It’s pretty clear that Aikman wishes his network had gotten a different assignment, and it probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the game he was calling turned into a blowout.

The Eagles and Bucs might not be too happy with Aikman’s ambivalence about their game. That wouldn’t be the first time he’s annoyed the people he’s calling.

Photo: Nov 21, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys former quarterback Troy Aikman attends the NFL game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Video: Bruce Arians smacks Buccaneers player in helmet

Bruce Arians smacking a helmet

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians had a curious reaction to what one of his players did during the second half of Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game.

Arians stormed onto the field and struck safety Andrew Adams on the helmet at the end of a play in the second half. Arians appeared to be trying to prevent Adams from picking up a needless penalty, as the safety appeared to be grabbing the leg of a Philadelphia Eagles player.

Some people are bothered when they see a head coach hit one of his own players in the helmet, even during the heat of a game. The timing is also interesting considering Arians’ recent back-and-forth with Antonio Brown’s camp.

Adams didn’t end up getting flagged, so for Arians, the ends justify the means. Ultimately, nobody involved is likely to dwell on this for very long.