In the fallout from Sunday’s gritty 35-29 overtime win in Foxborough, Cowboys stars Ezekiel Elliott and Randy Gregory openly criticized the game’s officiating crew. The game was atrociously called—no argument there—but at the end of the day, Dallas walked out with one of its best character wins in recent memory by overcoming a litany of mistakes. While emotions run high, open defiance of officials, let alone from multiple key players, unnecessarily runs the risk of future consequences.
Ezekiel Elliott: “There’s no excuse for that. That’s ridiculous the way they called that game. … We were able to overcome the Patriots and the zebras.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 18, 2021
Randy Gregory: “I thought it was a poorly called game by the refs, if I want to be honest. But you got to fight through it.”
The target on Dallas’ back is always present simply by virtue of them being the Dallas Cowboys, but the players seem intent on making it even bigger. Last week, Amari Cooper spoke, unprompted, of a Super Bowl this season. While it’s great to have that mindset, that is something opponents will take note of.
Cowboys WR Amari Cooper: "Our mindset is on a championship. To be a champion, you want to be clean. As an offense, our goal should be to score every drive. If we score every drive, how can you lose?— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 11, 2021
"When you're on a roll like this, you start thinking about a Super Bowl."
While Cooper’s comments are more about his team’s ambitions, Elliott’s and Gregory’s are more confrontational in nature. Officiating crews take a lot of flak in sports, regardless of the level in which they work. As such, an “us vs them” mentality can develop when a team becomes vocal in their criticism of a particular crew, deserved or not.
Dallas is riding high on a five-game win streak right now. Even their worst game from an execution standpoint produced 35 points in a tough environment. The team is understandably feeling itself right now, but publicly calling out officials is bound to draw the attention of future crews.
We discussed everything from Sunday’s win and took a look at what people around the world are saying about the Cowboys during the latest episode of CowboysCast on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our episodes! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
If you felt Dallas was the victim of bad officiating in New England on Sunday, consider how much consideration they’ll get in the future now that it’s been made more personal: phantom penalties, missed calls, and even more instances of Dak Prescott lying in the endzone with the ball without it being ruled a touchdown on the field. Referees are human after all, they can carry bias.
Although the Cowboys have been the victims of numerous controversial calls in recent years, drawing a line in the sand—even with a single officiating crew—is not a wise decision. You cannot overrule an officiating crew or its calls. You can’t even be assured that there will be no consequences from the league for officials who routinely make poor calls. There’s no appeal process or a do-over for controversial rulings, so why willingly put yourself at odds, especially when with so much going right a quarter of the way into the season?
Instead, take the win and enjoy it. Head into the bye week and rest up. The marathon is only just beginning.