Cowboys’ laterals could have been the most insane ending in NFL history

AP

Overlooked in the Packers’ dramatic comeback win over the Cowboys on Sunday is just how crazy an ending the Cowboys nearly pulled off on the game’s final play.

With the ball on their own 25-yard line and five seconds left in the game, the Cowboys tried what teams always try in that situation: A desperate, Stanford band-style, multiple-lateral play. What was crazy about this particular play was how close it came to working — thanks in part to multiple players on the Packers seeming to think the game had ended while the play was still going on.

The play started with Dak Prescott passing to Brice Butler for 10 yards. Butler lateraled to Ezekiel Elliott, who made a nice move and picked up 20 yards before lateraling to Prescott, who lateraled back to Butler, who lateraled back to Prescott, who lateraled to Jason Witten.

At that point Witten threw a lateral that hit the ground, and several players just quit on the play. It’s unclear what they were thinking — perhaps they thought Witten had thrown the ball forward, which would have ended the play, although replays clearly show it was a backward pass — but they just stopped. Packers linebacker Nick Perry picked up the ball and just stood there, and several other players were just standing around watching him.

Cowboys center Travis Frederick alertly knocked the ball out of Perry’s hands and began running with it, but when he tried to lateral the ball hit the ground and the Packers recovered, finally ending the game.

It easily could have gone differently, however. Prescott was trailing Frederick, and if Frederick had realized it and pitched the ball to Prescott, it’s entirely possible that Prescott would have been able to score himself or find someone else to lateral to. The Cowboys could have won, and if they had it could have been the craziest ending in NFL history.

Perry would have been the scapegoat for a Packers loss, because he had the ball and just had to kneel down to win the game, and instead he just stood there. But he was far from the only Packer who didn’t understand what was going on. Even Packers head coach Mike McCarthy appeared to step on the field before the play was over. FOX announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman also didn’t seem to fully grasp how close they were to calling the most insane final play ever.

As it stands, the play will be largely forgotten, and when people speak of Sunday’s Packers-Cowboys game they’ll remember it ending with Aaron Rodgers saving the day. It nearly ended a whole lot differently.

58 responses to “Cowboys’ laterals could have been the most insane ending in NFL history

  1. What’s the first thing you learned in high school football, play to the whistle.

    Could haves, should haves, it was this close, those are Viking excuses, the Cowboys still lost and are at 2-3.

  2. Only the Packers could’ve lost in that manner. With the Packers, no matter the lead or the time remaining, they have the worst luck in those sun-moon-and-stars all-aligned moments. Whew.

  3. I was watching that play with my Dad and we both were laughing at comical the whole thing seemed.

  4. In most instances, if a player just stands with the ball, as Perry did, he is assumed to have surrendered himself and the officials should whistle the play dead. Should have been over then.

  5. Were the ref’s even in position to make a call on a forward lateral during that final play? Is that reviewable?

  6. When I saw 5 guys rush the QB my first thought was how do Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers still have jobs? Those two are horrendous.

    If the Packers ever gets coaches who know defense while Aaron Rodgers still ‘has it’ then we’ll finally have to consider them contenders. But, he ain’t getting any younger.

  7. the Packers could’ve lost in that manner. With the Packers, no matter the lead or the time remaining, they have the worst luck in those sun-moon-and-stars all-alig

    You mean the team that didn’t lose the game that way or the team with Rodgers who maybe does the last minute Hail Mary better than anybody ever?

    I forget when did Green Bay lose a game in this manner

  8. “Joe Buck and Troy Aikman also didn’t seem to fully grasp …” So what else is new? After having two games of Romo calling the Pack, it was painful going back to these guys.

    It was nice hearing the hurt in Aikman’s voice after the pick-six, though.

  9. It was pretty clear the Packers had never practiced such a situation and none of the guys had any idea what to do, or even what the rules are.

    You get the sense that Packer practice consists of Rodgers chucking the ball all over the field with the rest of the guys cheering him on.

  10. Green Bay is undefeated in AT&T stadium. Jerry Jones to petition NFL to have Packers banned from visiting ever again.

  11. “Troy Aikman also didn’t seem to fully grasp”

    You mean the guy who was going on and on about David Bakhtiari giving up a sack until the camera cut to Bakhtiari in street clothes on the sidelines and Aikman finally realized Bakhtiari wasn’t even healthy or playing? Shocker.

  12. This is a non-story.
    The real story here is, THE COWBOYS ARE BACK TO REALITY. with a side piece on how Ezekiel Elliott has delayed his suspension for no reason.

  13. skoalbrother1980 says:
    October 9, 2017 at 8:38 am
    In most instances, if a player just stands with the ball, as Perry did, he is assumed to have surrendered himself and the officials should whistle the play dead. Should have been over then.
    ————-
    I don’t know if you made that up, or somebody actually told you that one time. But it obviously isn’t true. Could you imagine the mayhem that would ensue if players could just standstill to end plays? QBs could just drop back in the pocket and if they found themselves surrounded by defenders just stop running and stand there motionless making any hit a penalty.

  14. Given how many games end with one of these lateral plays or with a Hail Mary, it astonishes me how badly teams execute them, both offensively and defensively.

  15. Teams should bring in a rugby coach in training camp and maybe once or twice a year to give clinics on how to run these plays. A team that could learn how to properly execute multiple-lateral plays would have a significant advantage over teams that didn’t. Not only would it come in handy on last second plays like this, but if players trailing plays could learn to be in position and be taught how to properly execute a lateral, it could be a secret weapon. Teams have run what were called hook-and-lateral (incorrectly called hook-and ladder) plays in the past.

    Nate Ebner could fill this role for the Patriots. I am available for any of the other 31 teams that may be interested. 🙂

  16. if they did score…all scores are reviewable by the league. So they could have checked all of the laterals.

    But yes, Perry should’ve known to just fall down when he got the ball. I did think Elliot was gonna take it to the house when he got full head of steam going.

  17. “If” is the biggest word in the dictionary. You could say “if” about every play in every game in the history of the NFL.
    The bottom line is, the Packers won the game because they made the big plays when they had to. I take nothing away from the Cowboys. They are a solid team and Dak Prescott is a terrific QB. It would not surprise anyone if these two teams ended up playing in the NFC title game. If they do, we can all expect it to be another thrilling game.

  18. Bottom line, Rodgers rules (and I’m a BIG Michigan alum Brady fan), the Cowgirls are 2 – 3, and Jerrud the Mouth has that acid taste in his mouth yet again. Ya gotta love it. “America’s Team”…yeah, right! LOL.

  19. I was pretty nervous watching that play unfold, not going to lie. The Cowboys handled that play very well – almost well enough to work. There was definitely poor awareness on the Packers’ part.

  20. Its nice seeing the Cowboys going sideways and becoming the most dominate lateral team in football. Once they figure out the vertical part the sky’s the limit.

  21. I watched the game. And the laterals. And I can unequivocally say that this article is overblown. It wasn’t that spectacular, nor was it even close to being an NFL-defining moment. It was desperation, it looked like desperation, and it ended up failing.

  22. Ok lets go total cartoon show. If McCarthy stepped on the field thats a penaly and the game cant end on a defensive penalty so that would give the Cowboys one more try.

  23. “Perry would have been the scapegoat for a Packers loss, because he had the ball and just had to kneel down to win the game, and instead he just stood there.” DANG IF SOMEONE WOULD HAVE STARTED PLAYING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM THAT WOULD HAVE DONE IT! GAME OVER!

  24. “Perry would have been the scapegoat for a Packers loss, because he had the ball and just had to kneel down to win the game, and instead he just stood there.” The one time you want a player to kneel. Someone should have started playing the National Anthem.

  25. There was no doubt in my mind once Dallas scored with more than 1 minute left that the Packers were going to win the game. They shouldn’t have thrown it on first down to stop the clock. Dak should have kneeled on the half yard line – they had at least 2 more tries to get it in from there and would have taken at least another 35 seconds off the clock.

  26. wolverineinnc says:
    October 9, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Bottom line, Rodgers rules (and I’m a BIG Michigan alum Brady fan), the Cowgirls are 2 – 3, and Jerrud the Mouth has that acid taste in his mouth yet again. Ya gotta love it. “America’s Team”…yeah, right! LOL.
    ——————————————–

    How do you know a guy went to Michigan? Wait 30 seconds and he’ll tell you.

    In no way did anything you said in parenthesis matter to your comment. Way to feed the stereotype….

  27. McCarthy didn’t realize what was going on or understand it. And this is news? With a real coach (on defense too) the Packers would win it all at least half of the time. Rodgers is the GOAT.

  28. Can we set a rule that any “Cowboy Fan” who posts on these articles states their home state? Just want to get an idea of how many are actually from the state of Texas.

  29. “They shouldn’t have thrown it on first down to stop the clock. Dak should have kneeled on the half yard line – they had at least 2 more tries to get it in from there and would have taken at least another 35 seconds off the clock.”

    They shouldn’t have thrown unless they had to – that was really stupid, and left Green Bay with enough time to score. However, when Prescott had the opportunity to score, he had to score. To give that up would be idiotic.

    It seems like every time Packers/Cowboys is on, it feels like I am watching Dumb and Dumber. These two coaches must have something on their bosses.

  30. Guess who’s team would have known what to do because they practiced that situation? You know who.
    =====

    I really admire Pete Carroll also.

    Good call.

  31. When I saw 5 guys rush the QB my first thought was how do Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers still have jobs? Those two are horrendous.
    =====

    Exactly.

    Its Aaron Rodgers and a prayer. Same story in Packerville since 2012.

  32. So, you are saying the Packers should have received a 15 yard penalty for the coach entering the field? That the Cowboys should have gotten another snap?

  33. Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers, and the Packer faithful should thank their lucky stars for Aaron Rodgers. Seriously. Dude is cold as ice and has single-handedly kept the cheeseheads relevant, and those coaches employed.

    SN: Can someone tell me, other than the Packers, Patriots, and Cowboys any other teams that gets a free holding pass each game? I’ve seen all of the aforementioned teams go almost entire, if not entire, games without holding on the Oline. How does that happen?

  34. Putting aside this play, I read an article online that took issue with awarding the Cowboys the first down following Elliott’s fourth down dive, on the basis that he extended the ball past the marker but then voluntarily retracted it before he was downed. The writer seemed to think that, that being the case, he shouldn’t have been given credit for forward progress. I’ve never thought about a situation like that – anyone know if that’s accurate?

  35. I disagree (but admittedly have not seen the play yet). If the Cowboys scored the play would have been reviewed. If it happened as you say and the Packer with the ball just stood there, the officials could have simply ruled he gave himself up by not trying to advance the ball. If so, Frederick touching him to get the ball would have ended the play…no TD, Packers win…huge controversy…lots of whining and questioning the league’s motives, etc.

  36. This all shouldn’t have happened because Elliott’s throw to Prescott was a forward pass.

  37. And Perry was not standing still. He was walking slowly like he was in a trance when Witten knocked the ball loose.

    And maybe one of those laterals was forward, maybe.

    (I’m a Packers fan)

  38. I was screaming at the tv, when it hit the ground, THATS A LIVE BALL!!! WTF ARE YOU DOING STANDING THERE!!!

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