The NFL officials were again in the spotlight after a controversial end to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys game. After Dak Prescott’s run ended in-bounds after a play, a referee raced forward to find the ball and made contact with the players. This delay caused the clock to tick past 0:00, and the 49ers won the game 23-17.
A transcript of the interview between Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter Todd Archer and referee Alex Kemp revealed the details of what happened in the final seconds of the game. The interview started with an emphasis on the play, asking whether the mechanics went to plan.
Kemp said that the umpire correctly spotted the ball. Kemp also confirmed that no communication was made between the NFL’s New York replay booth and the on-field officials.
Kemp answered questions about the incident between the Cowboys’ official and their players and reiterated that the situation was handled correctly.
“The umpire was simply spotting the ball properly. He collided with the players as he was setting the ball because he was moving into the proper spot.”
He said, “We’re following the play, keeping proper spacing so that we can identify fouls if they are.” The umpire will immediately spot the ball once the play is finished.
Archer asked Archer again after the interview ended to confirm if there had been any communication with replay booth.
Kemp stated, “That’s it. Once we confirm it with the officials on field,”
After a controversial moment with the officiating staff, the Cowboys season ended in an extremely disappointing manner. The Cowboys tried to spike the ball one more time into the end zone after a scramble for yards as the clock expired.
By rule, the official must touch the ball before the offense can take it. Prescott and his team refused to give the ball to the official. The official battled his way through the linemen and repositioned the ball himself. He pushed through the line, forcing Prescott and his line to move their feet. However, the referee wasn’t clear about the play and the ball could not be snapped.
The controversial end was made even more interesting by the fact that the referee who was involved in the last play also had a similar bizarre moment earlier in game. The Cowboys had a successful fake punt which earned them a first-down. They then left their punting team on the field in an odd formation, trying to get San Francisco out of timeout.
The 49ers refused to take the offer, so Dallas replaced their personnel with the offensive and attempted to snap the ball. To ensure that the defense had time to set, the same referee was present on the final play. As he ran out of Cowboys’ reach, he appeared to block the Cowboys’ path for longer than necessary.