Dallas Cowboys left guard Connor McGovern still doesn’t understand how he flagged a fateful holding penalty — and he’s rewatched the tape over and over.
When two teams head to overtime, it’s difficult to distill the fate of the losing team down to a few last-minute errors.
While no one play — or two — can be entirely responsible for a loss, as Dallas Morning Star’s Michael Gehlken put it, there were two Cowboys penalties in overtime that “warrant a closer look.”
One was an offside penalty on Jalen Tolbert, a rookie who got his timing off on the play, according to Gehlken. “Learning experience for a rookie,” Gehlken said, and one that even the most frustrated Cowboys fan could empathize with — it’s called a “rookie mistake” for a reason.
The other penalty, however, is less forgivable, especially according to the player who received the flag. Cowboys left guard Connor McGovern received a holding penalty that he still can’t make sense of, according to Gehlken.
“Once I felt the back go past me, I let go,” McGovern said. “I didn’t grab anything. The ref said I tried to restrict him, tried to tackle him. Watching it on the replay, watching it on the iPad, I still don’t see it.”
Cowboys LG Connor McGovern defends himself against fateful penalty against Packers
While watching the tape, one can see defensive lineman Dean Lowry grapple with McGovern. As the two are deadlocked, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard zips by, and Lowry runs toward him, all while holding McGovern. Lowry misses Pollard, then seems to lose his balance, after which McGovern lets go. Without watching the play closely, it’s easy to assume McGovern threw Lowry, but Lowry’s body language leading up to the fall indicates otherwise. After Lowry slams into the ground, he throws his arms up for a flag, which made matters worse.
It’s one thing for Tolbert to get a penalty for a rookie mistake, but McGovern was doing his job and still doesn’t understand how he got a holding call. It’s not easy being an NFL referee and making perfect calls in real time, but that’s the nature of the job — a job that decides the fate of an entire franchise.
This wasn’t a great week for NFL refs: they even admitted missing a call on Gabriel Davis during overtime for the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills. While that decision didn’t cost the Vikings the game, this one ended up costing the Cowboys a crucial win over the Packers.