In the grasp? Key Cowboys drive ends with dubious call from officials

Yahoo Sports

If the NFL is going to go out of its way to protect quarterbacks, sometimes it’s going to work both ways.

We’ve seen plenty of questionable calls on hits by defensive players help offenses, and on Saturday night we saw the very rare call that was designed to protect the quarterback yet hurt an offense.

The Dallas Cowboys trailed 20-7 late in the first half and finally got a drive going into Rams territory. On a third down, Dak Prescott scrambled out of the pass rush but stopped. The whistle was blown very quickly on a rare “in the grasp” call by officials. The play was dead, the Rams were given a sack and the Cowboys punted on fourth down.

The replay made it look worse. Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins had actually instinctively grabbed Prescott to usher him away from the rush. The Rams had hands on Prescott but nothing that approached a sack. The only person that had Prescott in the grasp was his teammate.

It was simply a bad call.

“‘In the grasp’ means that one opponent has you in the grasp, with a second opponent bearing down on you and you look to protect the quarterback,” Fox officiating analyst Mike Pereira said. “On this one, I don’t quite see that.”

It wasn’t the first questionable call that went against the Cowboys. Dallas’ defense thought it got a third-down stop, but there was a penalty. It was a shaky illegal hands to the face call on Cowboys defensive back Byron Jones, and an automatic first down came with it on third-and-14. Todd Gurley scored a 35-yard touchdown two plays later to give the Rams a 20-7 lead.

The Cowboys had enough issues against a talented Rams team in the first half on Saturday night, and they didn’t get a lot of help from the officials.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was pressured often by the Rams on Saturday night. (AP)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was pressured often by the Rams on Saturday night. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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