The Dallas Cowboys lost in Week 1. Nobody is out here saying that the Cowboys are anything except for 0-1, but after having over a week to digest on what happened down in Tampa Bay (while processing everything that has been happening in Dallas simultaneously) there is no denying it. The Cowboys were very much in that game and could have very easily won it.
You can boil down why the Cowboys lost the game to a few moments. Some people would look to the short missed field goal and extra point from Greg Zuerlein. Others might talk about the quick Antonio Brown touchdown at the end of the first half. But one moment it seems just about everybody would focus on came on the Cowboys’ penultimate possession of the first half.
Dallas took over on the Tampa 21-yard line after a Trevon Diggs interception. Ultimately they went three and out (redzone efficiency has to improve among other things) before settling for a Greg Zuerlein field goal.
It’s what happened on the third down play, rather after it, that many people were upset by. Dak Prescott’s pass should have been intercepted by Lavonte David and David was so upset that it wasn’t that he slammed his helmet down on the field in frustration. That is a clear and obvious unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Not according to the referees who were in Tampa last Thursday night. No penalty was called, Dallas kicked a field goal, Antonio Brown scored a touchdown, and the Cowboys ultimately lost by two. Now the NFL has admitted nine full days later that it was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
#Bucs LB Lavonte David was fined $12,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct, taking off his helmet and slamming it after a near-interception in the opener against the #Cowboys. No flag was thrown.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 18, 2021
Here is the Lavonte David play that the NFL took 9 days to own up on.— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 18, 2021
If the penalty is called in the moment and not over a week later the Cowboys have a first down and maybe score a touchdown as opposed to kick a field goal in a game they lost by 2.
Not a big deal or anything. pic.twitter.com/FxsVviSB6X
We live in a day and age where we can send robots to other planets, but the NFL can’t assess this penalty mid-game? How is that possible and acceptable?
Lavonte David was fined for this non-called penalty so the NFL will feel like justice has been served, but this potentially swung the game (obviously we are using some hindsight to come to that conclusion). How is that fair?
The NFL loves to react to things as opposed to enact proactive measurements and safeguards so that the right thing happens in the moment. Unfortunately this is just another example and one that potentially meant the difference between losing and winning for the Cowboys.
What a shame.