The Cowboys are back from the bye week, and they’re getting ready to take on the Rams at home. That means it’s time for another referee report, but first let’s get some numbers going. It’s easy to look up which teams are the most penalized and see that the Cowboys are in eighth place, but that’s missing crucial context.
As we’ve seen with this weekly referee report, some officiating crews are just more flag happy than others, so getting 11 penalties in one game isn’t really that bad if the other team also had nine penalties. Besides, the total cost of a team’s penalties in a given game has to be weighed against the penalties of the opponent as well. So let’s start an account of the Cowboys’ weekly penalties and how they stack up each week against the opponent they played that week:
Cowboys Penalties Week by Week
In looking at this breakdown, we can see that the Cowboys are being penalized slightly more than their opponents but not at a staggering rate. Furthermore, four of their six games saw the Cowboys penalized either just as much, one more, or one less than their opponent. Even their last game, which saw Dallas slapped with 11 penalties, wasn’t that much higher than their opponent. The Cardinals game is the one that stands out the most, by far.
So as the Cowboys prepare to take on the Rams, it’s fair to say that penalties have been an issue at times but not an epidemic; it’s not as if the Cowboys are consistently committing way more errors than their opponent. And that should continue this week, as they draw Adrian Hill.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Hill has already called a Cowboys game this year. Hill called their season opener against the Giants, to be specific. The full referee report on Hill from then is available here, but this was the main takeaway:
All in all, Hill has a reputation for being very fair to both sides in his games. His crew does not tolerate grabby play by either the offense or defense, which could make it difficult for a Dallas defense that likes to play a lot of tight man coverage. That said, Micah Parsons has been known to draw a lot of holding calls, so that should work in the Cowboys’ favor. Nothing about Hill and his crew’s body of work suggests the Cowboys are at any sort of disadvantage as the road team, though this is the first time Hill will be calling a Cowboys game not in AT&T Stadium.
That proved to be correct, for the most part. Hill called five penalties on the Cowboys and six penalties on the Giants. Four of the 11 total penalties were offensive holding, while five were either defensive holding, illegal contact, or defensive pass interference. And in the end, Hill’s impact on the game was hardly felt by either side.
Now, Hill is back in his usual environment, calling a Cowboys game in Dallas. In the five games Hill has called since then, the home team is 3-2 while the betting favorite is 5-0. Of course, the Cowboys are the favorite in this one and playing at home.
Hill has stayed true to his streak of calling things evenly between both teams. In three of those five games, the discrepancy between teams in total penalties called was never more than two. He did have an unusual one in Week 2, calling 12 penalties on the Chiefs and just two on the Jaguars, but Kansas City won the game anyway.
Hill and his crew are also true to form in terms of the types of penalties they tend to call. Offensive linemen don’t often get away with holding when Hill’s crew is there, and defensive backs have to be careful with how physical they get. Other than that, Hill is going to let the two teams play their game.
This is a good draw for the Cowboys. They were sloppy right before the bye, earning most of those penalties just as the Chargers did, but they’ll need more disciplined play going forward. The Rams are exactly the type of team that can beat you if the penalties (or other mistakes) pile up, so it bodes well for the Cowboys that they have Hill. Don’t expect a flag fest this week, which should help the Cowboys get off to a hot start coming off their week of rest.