The Dallas Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs in the NFC Wild Card round after their comeback bid came short in a 23-17 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday
But it was the final play of the game that had fans on both sides in disbelief.
With 14 seconds left in the contest, the Cowboys opted to call a quarterback draw in which Dak Prescott picked up 17 yards and slid, hoping to have enough time left to spike the ball for one final play from the San Francisco 24-yard line. But umpire Ramon George, who by rule must touch/set the ball, wasn't able to spot the ball in time for a play to be run. George bumped into Prescott before setting the ball.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy defended the play call post game.
Mike McCarthy has no regrets pic.twitter.com/Wuh2xAq4CX
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Disgruntled Cowboys fans were seen throwing objects at their own team and referees as players and officials exited the field at AT&T Stadium.
Some questioned the mechanics of the ball-spotting process by George on the final play, inquiring if the correct procedure was followed.
Referee Alex Kemp said in a pool report George was trailing the play at a proper distance and acted appropriately to get the ball spotted correctly. The umpire has to touch the ball before another play can happen.
Kemp said the decision that the snap came after the clock had expired was made on the field, not on a replay assist from New York.
"The umpire was simply spotting the ball properly," Kemp said. "He collided with the players as he was setting the ball because he was moving it to the proper spot."
McCarthy suggested Prescott was slowed by the collision with George, and that a sideline official assured him the play was being reviewed.
"The communication that I was given on the sideline was they were reviewing it," McCarthy said. "They were going to put time back on the clock. And the next thing I know, they're running off the field."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones placed blame on his team, suggesting the game shouldn't have been in the position to be decided in the final seconds.
"The team should not have been in a position to make that last play be something controversial," Jones said. "I'm not going to make it bigger than it is."
The 49ers will advance to the NFC Divisional round to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Cowboys have now gone 11 straight playoff appearances without reaching a conference championship game, which is the longest streak by any team in NFL history.
- With files from the Associated Press