Mike McCarthy didn’t think he’d win a challenge when officials spotted CeeDee Lamb short

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
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Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy missed a big opportunity when he didn’t challenge a ruling that CeeDee Lamb had come up just short of a first down on Sunday night, but he said afterward that in the moment, he didn’t think he would win a challenge.

McCarthy said he originally thought the officials gave Lamb the first down and signaled to the offense to hurry up and run the next play before the Eagles could challenge. By the time the officials told him that they had actually ruled Lamb inches short, McCarthy decided to go ahead and let the offense go for it on fourth-and-inches.

“CeeDee’s catch, the communication was originally first down, and then we went turbo on the ball, quick play, and then the communication when they pulled it back, fourth down [down judge Robin DeLorenzo] on the sideline told me she had the knee down before he extended. My history has been when the official tells you that, it’s usually pretty clear. We were already in turbo because of the other side. We were in turbo because, if he didn’t get the first down,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said he hadn’t seen a replay but he figured if an official told him Lamb was short then Lamb probably was short. And McCarthy said that when the Cowboys’ offense lined up, they liked the look they were getting from the Eagles’ defense.

“There was no replay in that sequence,” McCarthy said. “My experience has been when it’s communicated by an official, I’m usually discouraged from challenging that play, and then we had time to see their defense and we expected man and they were in man, and that’s why we stayed with the call that we did. It didn’t work out, and it put our defense in terrible field position.”

Based on the replays shown during the broadcast, it appeared that McCarthy would have won if he had challenged. But he didn’t, and the next play failed, and the Cowboys sunk deeper into a hole they were unable to climb out of.

16 responses to “Mike McCarthy didn’t think he’d win a challenge when officials spotted CeeDee Lamb short

  1. You’re playing with your backup QB, so you decide to speed the game up rather than slow it down by challenging the play AND you decide to have him throw on 4th and inches. In what universe does this make sense?? Okay so if it was called a first down, you go turbo to prevent an Eagles challenge, but as soon as you know it was marked short, challenge it or call a timeout to discuss it with your spotter upstairs!! Slow down the game. Keep the Eagles offense off the field. Rest your D. If you lose the challenge, either punt so you don’t risk giving the Eagles a short field or go with one of the strengths of your offense (the OL and RBs), NOT the weakness of your offense (your backup QB).

  2. They needed 4 inches and the play they ran there was laughable, because they didn’t have a QB sneak in as the default play in those situations. That’s on the coach.

  3. This was the single biggest mistake of the game and it came for the Cowboys HC, how this guy still has a job in the NFL is beyond my understanding. I wouldn’t want McCarthy coaching my local Community College!

  4. If I remember correctly, the Cowboys called a running play with the RB deep. A QB sneak get’s the 6 inches and this is irrelevant.

    Reminds me of the Eagles 2 pt play from the 1 yard line. Why did the Eagles have to outthink themselves on that play. All night on 3rd-1 and 4th-1 they went into the rugby scrum formation and absolutely dominated. Why not do it on the 2 pt conversion from the one yard line?

  5. but you would have – he made a great play to get to the line to gain. Terrible spot … you have to challenge that.

  6. This loss is stinging Jerrah pretty good – his team was outclassed AT home by a division opponent.
    McCarthy looked like his typical self when they fell behind early – he just cashed it in!

  7. I never trust officials during challenging the spot of the ball. Also, you are considered down when the wrist and elbow are down. I think the spot was right.

  8. There’s the Mike we all know. That was one of the worst coaching decisions I’ve ever seen. A simple sneak picks it up 99% of the time….so of course, throw it 25 yards

  9. Jerry is a really smart person. How on Earth did he get conned by this guy? 1 Super Bowl w/ Rodgers and zero else to show for it. He proves it every week what a terrible, awful,really bad, coach he is.Mind Boggling actually.

  10. All the internet outrage, yet none of us were there with the game on the line, getting word from an official as to why the ball was spotted where it was. Keep in mind that spots are the hardest plays to overturn, because if no shot shows the ball near a landmark (e.g., a hashmark or the sideline with the actual chains), it has to be wrong by multiple feet, not inches, to win the challenge. And if the play as called succeeds, they have a good shot to win the game. Unfortunate choices? Sure. But reasonable ones at the time.

  11. “…McCarthy said he hadn’t seen a replay but he figured if an official told him Lamb was short then Lamb probably was short…”

    This is why there are people up in the booth and assistant coaches. Of course McCarthy didn’t see a replay, but someone in the Cowboys organization saw replays and should’ve been communicating what they saw to him. I’m sure they did.

    A challenge would’ve also given them more time to plan the 4th down play if the challenge was unsuccessful. The whole sequence was idiotic, and his explanation doesn’t absolve him of making a rushed, bad decision.

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