Mike McCarthy costs Cowboys by not challenging key Giants catch
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy made a huge mistake late in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, and it may have cost his team a trip to the playoffs.
The Cowboys were trailing 20-19 late in the fourth quarter when they came up with a big sack on second down to push the Giants out of field goal range. Daniel Jones then completed a pass to Dante Pettis on 3rd-and-16 to get New York back into field goal range at the Dallas 32-yard line. Graham Gano converted a 50-yard field goal to give the Giants a 23-19 lead.
But did Pettis actually make the catch? It looked like the ball clearly hit the ground, but McCarthy chose not to challenge.
How do you not challenge this? Ruled a catch on the field, making it 4th & 6 and putting the Giants into field goal range instead of 4th & 16 and out of field goal range. Cowboys had their full slate of timeouts at their disposal. #DALvsNYG pic.twitter.com/Wn4DB0vRQt
— Jake Kline (@JakeAKline) January 3, 2021
FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira said there is “no question” the ruling of a completed catch would have been overturned.
Mike Pereira: “No question in my mind that if Dallas would’ve challenged this it would have been reversed to an incomplete pass.” pic.twitter.com/cKolhlaBMl
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 3, 2021
Even without seeing a replay, it was clear the catch was questionable. It’s hard to imagine why McCarthy felt it was not worthwhile to review that, especially given the situation. Had it been ruled incomplete, the Giants likely would have punted and the Cowboys would have only needed a field goal to take the lead.
Because Dallas ended up trailing by four and needed a touchdown, Andy Dalton played a lot more desperately and threw an interception in the end zone on the ensuing drive. The Cowboys went on to lose and were eliminated from the postseason hunt.
McCarthy should have known to challenge the catch if there was any chance at all that it would be overturned. We’ve seen quite a few mind-boggling blunders from NFL coaches late in games, but that was among the worst.