Shutdown Corner - NFL

On the first day of Christmas, my back judge gave to me, a yellow flag thrown right at me.

Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Stephen McGee(notes) was hit in the face by a flag launched by the back judge during Dallas' 27-26 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas night. The flag was thrown on Arizona for illegal contact and happened to land right in McGee's facemask:

The backup, who came in the game after Jon Kitna(notes) went out with a hip injury, wasn't hurt by the errant toss and would go on to lead Dallas to a go-ahead touchdown. But a subsequent missed extra point allowed the Cardinals to drive down the field for the win afterward.

[Related: Former star QB confesses to extreme memory loss]

That was a pretty amazing toss by the back judge, Steve Freeman. He was standing about 30 yards from McGee when the flag was thrown, making his toss just as good as any one thrown by Jon Kitna.

[Rewind video: Favre suffers brutal head injury]

But, as my grandmother used to say, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. McGee was fortunate to walk away with just a good story, because it was 11 years ago that another player, Orlando Brown, suffered severe eye damage when a flag hit him in the eye. (Coincidentally, that flag was thrown by the ref who worked Saturday night's game, Jeff Triplette.) Since then, most officials have stopped using BBs to weight down flags. It's likely that Freeman's flag had sand, or some material like it, weighting it down so it could be launched 30 yards downfield.

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