It turns out Sunday’s game at AT&T Stadium was not a flip of the coin. Dak Prescott threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and the Cowboys rolled to a 44-21 victory over the Rames.
Things got off to an inauspicious start for the Cowboys, though, when Walt Anderson heard Prescott say the Cowboys wanted to kickoff after winning the coin toss.
“Definitely a weird start,” Prescott said. “We wanted to set adversity there instead of on the field, so we could play from behind immediately. Just bad use of words by me. We listened to the audio. We got it figured out. Just wasn’t the cleanest coin flip I’ve been a part of.”
Coin toss controversies have happened in the NFL previously, most notably when Jerome Bettis called tails and referee Phil Luckett insisted after the Thanksgiving 1998 overtime coin flip landed tails that Bettis called heads.
But Prescott clearly said the Cowboys wanted to kickoff, and, when asked again by Anderson if he was sure, Prescott repeated his option. Prescott, though, already had said defer and didn’t know Anderson hadn’t heard him.
Prescott admits he said “a little bit of everything.”
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence took the blame for the near miscue, saying it was his decision to defer because he wanted the Cowboys defense on the field first.
“We was gonna receive the ball, but I wanted to defer,” Lawrence said. “But once you said kick, that means you’re kicking off and you got to kick off the second half? I don’t know. We was supposed to say defer. That was the little confusion, but it’s all good.”
The situation was resolved by the league office at halftime when game officials consulted with the NFL’s supervisor of officiating, Al Riveron. The Cowboys kicked off to open the game and, leading 28-7 at halftime, received to open the second half.
“Yeah, Dak told me he used the word ‘defer’ out there, so we felt like we had a case there,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “But they needed to kind of hear it. I actually was coming into the locker room when [Fox sideline reporter] Erin Andrews made me aware that there was some audio they were going to refer back to.”
Riveron made the decision, using Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9, which said that officials can use replay for game administration issues.
“If you look at what happened, you see that the Cowboys actually say three different things, and then we hear at the end where they say, ‘defer,'” Riveron said in a pool report. “So we go ahead and look at it. We pulled up the audio. We knew that I was going to have a conversation with Walt Anderson at halftime to make it right.”
In the end, it didn’t matter. But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joked that he is firing Prescott from ever calling the coin flip again.