The referees might have been the biggest stars in the Las Vegas Raiders' 36-33 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys after they whistled the two teams for 28 penalties that were accepted.
The officiating crew was at least a topic of discussion inside the Cowboys locker room.
Team owner Jerry Jones described the game as "throw up ball" because one team would heave the ball up for grabs and look for a flag.
Jori Epstein @JoriEpstein
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says “frustrating” for NFL that “probably most watched” game is officiated like this. “This is not a criticism of the rule. It is a criticism of the discretion of how you use them in play.”<br><br>Said Raiders adjusted to officiating philosophy better.
Dallas wide receiver Michael Gallup thought his team was facing two opponents:
Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on 166 penalty yards: “That is tough, especially in our own stadium. You’re playing two teams. You’re playing the refs and the other team.” Five takeaways from Cowboys’ overtime loss to Raiders: <a href="https://t.co/7g8780PWbu">https://t.co/7g8780PWbu</a> <a href="https://t.co/49yz35kElC">pic.twitter.com/49yz35kElC</a>
Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons and head coach Mike McCarthy chimed in as well:
The Sporting News @sportingnews
“I think we should play football. We’re not here to play tag.”<br><br>Micah Parsons wasn’t thrilled about being called for roughing the passer 😬<br><br>📸 <a href="https://twitter.com/jonmachota?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jonmachota</a> <a href="https://t.co/FzERQ2moX0">pic.twitter.com/FzERQ2moX0</a>
Las Vegas and Dallas each had 14 penalties, though the latter racked up 56 more penalty yards.
As much as those with the Cowboys might feel they were disproportionately affected by the officiating, there were questionable calls on both sides.
The worst for the Raiders came late in the fourth quarter when center Andre James was whistled for a false start. The Cowboys appeared to jump offside, which would've given Las Vegas a first down. Instead, the Raiders were backed up to a 2nd-and-10 and settled for a field goal two plays later.
But Dallas was on the negative end for arguably the two biggest penalty calls of the game.
The first was a holding call on Tyron Smith in the third quarter that took a Dalton Schultz touchdown off the board. The home team had to settle for a Greg Zuerlein field goal after getting backed up.
Then, the Raiders were staring at 3rd-and-18 on their own 43-yard line in overtime as Anthony Brown provided them with a lifeline by committing pass interference. Las Vegas moved all the way up to Dallas' 24-yard line. That was all the help Rich Bisaccia's squad needed to get Daniel Carlson in position for a game-winning 29-yard field goal.
Officiating never decides the outcome of a game, and the referees weren't responsible for the Cowboys surrendering 509 yards and 36 points to a team that scored 43 points over its previous three games.
But as Jones referenced, the Thanksgiving Day clash wasn't exactly a great advertisement for the NFL, unless you like seeing a lot of yellow laundry.