Referee Alex Kemp: Umpire Spotted Football 'Properly' at End of 49ers vs. Cowboys

Erin WalshJanuary 17, 2022

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 23: Referee Alex Kemp #55 at NRG Stadium as the Carolina Panthers play the Houston Texans on September 23, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Saturday's NFC Wild Card Round matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys ended in controversy when a referee bumped into quarterback Dak Prescott as he was trying to spike the ball with just seconds remaining following a 17-yard run.


What a way to end the game! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SuperWildCard?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SuperWildCard</a> <a href="https://t.co/esKKpbkrQn">pic.twitter.com/esKKpbkrQn</a>

After the game, referee Alex Kemp discussed the controversial finish, telling ESPN's Todd Archer that the game official "spotted the ball properly."

NFL Officiating @NFLOfficiating

Pool report from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SFvsDAL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SFvsDAL</a>: <a href="https://t.co/3efINKXzM7">pic.twitter.com/3efINKXzM7</a>

ESPN's Kevin Seifert noted the game officials "did their jobs" on the final play. He added that "players are advised to hand the ball directly to the umpire or another official to expedite spotting of the ball."

Prescott handed the ball to center Tyler Biadasz, who placed the ball down in preparations to snap it as the rest of the offense got into position. Ramon George, the umpire, then had to force his way through the offensive line to get to the ball, and Prescott's spike was too late. 

Seifert noted that by rule, the ball can't be snapped until an official has touched it to confirm the spot on the field. 

Granted, the idea of running the ball up the middle with just 14 seconds left and no timeouts was questionable at best. 

In addition, Prescott and the offense didn't even execute the play correctly. If he had stopped running sooner, there would have been more time to spike the ball. It was a risky call, especially when the offense was moving the ball effectively through the air on the final drive. 

After the loss, McCarthy defended his decision to have Prescott run the ball, telling reporters, "That was the best option." He also said he was expecting more time to be put on the clock. 

With their season now over, the Cowboys will head back to the drawing board in preparation for 2022. They have just two playoff wins in the last decade and haven't won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season.