FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys issued a public "no comment'' regarding the pair of "tripping'' calls made against their offensive linemen in Sunday's 13-9 loss at the Patriots, and maybe that's because they'd already privately issued their thoughts to the NFL, which responded with a pair of too-late "Oops, sorrys".
“Yeah, no real comment on that,” Jason Garrett said at his Monday news conference here at The Star.
It is common practice for NFL teams to send video of dubious calls to the league office for review—not because calls are going to be reversed, of course; it's more about working to improve the process. So the errors are not correctable. Meanwhile, they don't really provide any salve for the wounds, either.
Center Travis Frederick and left tackle Tyron Smith were wrongly flagged for "tripping'' in the game on two different plays that proved to be critical in the loss.
In the first quarter, a phantom call against Smith meant a Cowboys’ second-and-13 would become a second-and-23. From that hole, Dallas was soon forced to punt in its own territory, and then allowed a blocked punt to lead to the only TD of the game.
Even more critical, the Cowboys were driving with two minutes remaining while down 13-9. A Patriots rusher fell to the feet of Frederick and a ref wrongly thought he'd been "tripped'' by the Dallas center.
The penalty meant a play that had resulted in a huge third-down conversion was now a third-and-11, and Dallas could not convert from there.
Said Frederick, like Tyron Smith a perennial Pro Bowler and a technician at his position: “I don’t understand the rule, evidently. I need to get a clarification on that. When I tried to get a clarification on that, the umpire was nowhere to be found.”
There have been nine "tripping'' calls in the NFL all season. Two of those came in one game, benefiting New England and coach Bill Belichick (who reportedly planted the "tripping'' seed in the pregame minds of the refs) and crushing the Cowboys.
Two of them that never should have been.