The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 20-17 this past Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the win did not come without controversy.
The referees in this one were extremely whistle-happy, calling 20 penalties cumulatively between the two sides. Of that total, 12 came against the home team.
One in particular seemingly altered the entire course of the game.
Down by three with 10:25 left in the game, LA marched down the field all the way to the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. At that point, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert found tight end Jared Cook for what appeared to be a score to give his team a 20-17 lead.
Then the refs got involved.
Multiple flags were thrown shortly after the touchdown: one for taunting and another for an illegal shift.
The Cowboys took the five-yard illegal shift penalty to negate the touchdown and move LA back to the 7-yard line.
And then there was this:
Officials called this a sack on Justin Herbert 🤨pic.twitter.com/fY8nHbWSVs
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 19, 2021
Following an incomplete pass, Herbert was chased into the backfield and seemingly was able to get rid of the ball. Or at least it appeared that way before the refs got involved.
Inexplicably, officials ruled he had been sacked because he had already begun falling backwards.
LA was subsequently spotted at the 25-yard line and moved just 14 yards back up the field. They ended up settling for a game-tying 29-yard field goal.
Shortly thereafter the Cowboys easily moved down the field and then put Greg Zuerlein in position to kick a walk-off 56-yard field goal.
After the game, Chargers legend Shawne Merriman called the refs out for being in the Cowboys’ pockets.
The game within the game pic.twitter.com/Q0m9Fxsgtv
— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) September 19, 2021
— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) September 20, 2021
So did the officials rob LA of a victory? Opinions will differ. Obviously bad calls happen throughout the course of NFL games – but these were particularly egregious. And they did impact the final result.
Over the past few weeks awful officiating has become something of a theme. The Philadelphia Eagles had a win stolen from them by the San Francisco 49ers as a result of it; similarly, a ref was caught on a hot mic seemingly making up a call during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ recent game.
Jake Paul is ready for war. https://t.co/PmklEb92K8
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 22, 2021
Will the NFL take a more serious look at the qualms folks have with how the game is policed and do something to protect the integrity of the sport? Time will tell.
Related: Why Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado Hate Each Other
If it wasn’t a sack, it was intentional grounding at the very least. The ball did not reach the line of scrimmage.