After the Dallas Cowboys’ humiliating Thanksgiving Day loss to Las Vegas Raiders on November 12, 2011, it became common to blame the officials. There were 28 penalties total, 14 on each team. It was a messy visual experience.
Nearly all members of the Cowboys organization had something about officiating following the loss. This has been well documented up to this point. The problem is in Dallas’ follow-up message.
The Cowboys have a penalty issue, whether they like or not
The Cowboys had 60 penalty yards in the 1st quarter. That is their most in a 1st quarter since 2002 Week 1 against the Texans.
It's the most by any team in a 1st quarter since 2018. pic.twitter.com/YcNuYjkk1g
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 25, 2021
It is absurd to call 28 penalties in one game. The officiating crew could have done a better job. The Cowboys’ penalty issues in Dallas are not a new problem. This was not an isolated incident of poor officials. The Cowboys, especially on defense, have been uncoordinated throughout the year.
Pro Football Reference reports that the Cowboys defense ranks first in terms of penalties taken (90) as well as second in terms of penalty yards allowed (727). These numbers include the 14 penalties and 166 penalty yard against Las Vegas. The Cowboys would still be ranked top-10 in both metrics, even if Las Vegas penalties were removed.
The Cowboys are guilty of a penalty issue, regardless of whether they wish to admit it. It was evident that it rose to the surface in a national setting on Thanksgiving Day.
After the overtime loss, it was not surprising that emotions ran high in the Dallas locker rooms. Instead of taking responsibility for the home loss, everyone was quick to blame officials and injuries.
What was most concerning, however, is the anger expressed by Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy when asked about his team’s penalties. Instead of focusing on the fact that Dallas didn’t perform well against Las Vegas, he seems to believe that Dallas was being screwed and mistreated.
“Twenty-eight penalties,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know what to say. You can write whatever you like. It’s all up to me.
Mike McCarthy was not happy.
(h/t @SlaterNFL) pic.twitter.com/9FkoHghRAy
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) November 26, 2021
McCarthy was frustrated and emotional. However, this is not what he needs right now. He should be able to resolve the penalty issues and not complain to journalists.
The Cowboys were considered legitimate NFC contenders just a few weeks back. They’re now losers in three of the last four, creating an opening for NFC East rivals.
Both the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles are currently on a two-game winning streak. They are eager to challenge Dallas for NFC East supremacy.
The Cowboys must get fit and address the penalty problem. Mike McCarthy is the first to do this. Instead of complaining to reporters about flags, McCarthy needs to create a concrete plan to address the problem in Week 13 as well as beyond. It is hard to imagine the Cowboys retaining the NFC East’s top spot while playing the worst defense in the NFL.