Dallas Cowboys fans are surely frustrated after a tripping penalty derailed their team's final realistic chance during Sunday's 13-9 loss at the New England Patriots, and hearing the NFL admit it was a mistake probably won't help them feel better.
Yet, the league did exactly that Monday.
Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the league told the Cowboys that the tripping penalties called against them in Sunday's game should not have been enforced. The one called against Travis Frederick on Dallas' final drive (not counting a desperation play with one second remaining) stands out, as it nullified a third-down conversion by Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys turned it over on downs a mere two plays later.
It is still a stretch to suggest the Cowboys would have won if the penalty on Frederick had not been called. They would have had the ball on their 38-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in a game that did not feature a single Dallas touchdown.
New England's defense is first in the league in points allowed per game, first in takeaways and second in yards allowed per game. It contained the NFC East team's attack throughout the contest and likely would have done so again even if Elliott's reception for a first down stood.
Still, that didn't stop defensive end Demarcus Lawrence from expressing his frustration on Twitter:
"Come on," he told reporters (h/t Patrik Walker of CBS Sports). "Everybody knows there was no such thing [as tripping on those calls]—[no foot] was thrown out or that somebody was tripped. They can talk about it in the front office and figure out when they're going to start calling tripping calls, or when that call is even displayed. It's all up to them. They make the rules."