Washington fell behind 24-0 to the Cowboys in their Week 14 matchup but had a chance to tie the game late. It forced a Dallas punt in the fourth quarter while trailing 27-20. It got the ball back with 3:04 and two timeouts remaining.
Washington was only able to keep the ball for two plays before giving it back to Dallas.
Kyle Allen, who was at quarterback in place of an injured Taylor Heinicke, dropped back to pass on second down. He found himself under pressure and tried to get rid of the ball while falling to the ground. Defensive end Randy Gregory was able to jar the ball out of Allen’s hand and the Cowboys recovered the fumble.
But was it a fumble? It was a very close call. Allen’s hand appeared to be moving forward when the ball came loose. The question became whether Allen had control of the ball with his hand moving forward, which would make the play an incomplete pass, or if Allen was down by contact.
The play was automatically reviewed, as are all turnovers in the NFL. In the end, the ruling on the field stood.
Walt Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, told a pool reporter after the game why the call stood.
There were two aspects that we looked at. The first was we were looking to see if the quarterback had control of the ball with his hand coming forward. We could confirm that he lost control of the ball before the hand came forward. And then the second aspect is we wanted to make sure that his knees were not down before he ended up losing control. And we were able to confirm that the knees were still up, so the ruling on the field stood.
It’s clear that Allen’s knees were not down. Control of the ball was murkier, but given that the play was ruled a fumble on the field, there wasn’t clear and obvious evidence to overturn the call.
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The Cowboys (9-4) were able to run out the clock after recovering the fumble. They forced Washington (6-7) to burn its two remaining timeouts before picking up a first down on a Dak Prescott scramble. That got them to the two-minute warning, which allowed them to take a knee on their final three snaps.
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