ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons’ tone hovered somewhere between exasperated and dejected.
How to explain the penalty?
Parsons had closed in from the left on Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr midway through the third quarter, defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa completing the trap on the right side. The Cowboys players collided with each other, Carr toppling down between them. Carr was slow to get up, grabbing his neck. He flashed a smile to his teammates as he returned to the huddle.
“That did not seem like a penalty,” CBS analyst and 13-year NFL quarterback Tony Romo said on the broadcast.
Officials disagreed and threw one of 28 penalty flags on the day. Parsons was flagged for roughing the passer. The Raiders advanced 15 yards and into the red zone.
“We should be playing football, not tag,” Parsons said after the Cowboys’ 36-33 overtime loss. “I’m not here to support anybody and play tag like it’s my best friend. I got a job to do, and I see how he’s outside of the pocket, so I’m going to the quarterback.
“I mean, we’re playing football at the end of the day.”
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Most Cowboys steered clear of attributing the loss to officiating after a contest in which Dallas lacked offensive rhythm for three-and-a-half quarters and repeatedly attempted tackles with insufficient angles. After all, the Raiders drew the same number of penalties (14) as the Cowboys, with the Cowboys’ costing 166 yards vs. the Raiders’ 110.
Regardless, the volume of officiating activity was undeniable. The 28 penalties that stood (five were offset or declined) marked the most ever in the Cowboys’ 61-year history. The 166 penalty yards exceeded the Cowboys’ previous high of 161 at Washington on Nov. 2, 1970.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy reacts to a penalty call in the fourth quarter against the Raiders.