According to Will Brinson of CBS Sports, "the Cowboys could not properly handle telling the referees they wanted to 'defer' to start the game, and as a result, the Rams will get the ball to start the first half AND the second half."
The television broadcast explained quarterback Dak Prescott initially said "we want to kick" and not "we defer" after winning the coin toss prior the game. However, Ed Werder of ESPN noted referee Walt Anderson and the rest of his crew discussed the situation with head coaches Jason Garrett and Sean McVay and allowed the Cowboys to receive to start the second half after all.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com noted the league office had the right to intervene in the situation because Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9 that says "The replay official and designated members of the officiating department may consult with on-field officials, or conduct a replay review, of game administration issues, including: (a) penalty enforcement; (b) the proper down; (c) spot of a foul; and (d) the game clock."
NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron explained there was a responsibility of sorts to help Anderson.
"It says that we can get involved, replay can, as far as game-administration issues: downs, enforcements, things like that," he said. "So, by rule, we can get involved. This is a game-administration issue, not a judgment call, for example. And we have definite audio that refers to deferring."
It was nearly another gaffe for a franchise that lost its previous three games and looked nowhere near ready for a playoff run during that stretch.
The mistake would have also been poorly timed because of how important Sunday's contest was for Dallas. Following the Philadelphia Eagles' win over Washington, the Cowboys were a half-game behind their rivals in the NFC East race.
Fortunately for Dallas, it overcame the strange start and dominated the Rams on the way to a 44-21 win.
It is now tied with the Eagles heading into their Week 16 showdown and can clinch the division with a victory because it would have the tiebreaker on account of winning the first matchup as well.