Add “coin toss against the Rams” to the list of Cowboys-related things that have been screwed up this season, although this error was not Dallas’ fault.
The Cowboys, who at 6-7 entering their Week 15 game against the 8-5 Rams needed a win to keep their slim lead in the NFC East standings, won the coin toss before the game. Team captain and quarterback Dak Prescott, though, did not “defer” properly — or at least not loudly enough.
Because referee Walt Anderson apparently did not hear Prescott specifically state his team was deferring its choice to the second half, instead hearing only that the Cowboys wanted to kick off, Dallas failed to defer and was expected to kick off both halves.
Fox’s cameras picked up audio of Prescott using the word “defer,” but Anderson didn’t hear it. Below is a clip of the coin toss in question.
Anderson and his crew discussed with the NFL office which team would kick off to start the second half, and they allowed the Cowboys to choose to receive.
Erin Andrews reported on Fox’s broadcast that Anderson told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and Rams coach Sean McVay it was determined Prescott indeed used the word “defer” during the pregame coin toss.
The NFL after the game released a clarification on the coin toss decision in the form of a pool report with vice president of officiating Al Riveron.
The official game play-by-play, for what it’s worth, claimed all along that Dallas won the coin toss and elected to defer.
The NFL’s rules for the coin toss are as follows:
“Not more than three minutes before the kickoff of the first half, the referee, in the presence of both team’s captains (limit of six per team, active, inactive or honorary) shall toss a coin at the center of the field. Prior to the referee’s toss, the call of “heads” or “tails” must be made by the captain of the visiting team, or by the captain designated by the referee if there is no home team. Unless the winner of the toss defers his choice to the second half, he must choose one of two privileges, and the loser is given the other. The two privileges are:
- The opportunity to receive the kickoff, or to kick off; or
- The choice of goal his team will defend.
“If the coin does not turn over in the air or the toss is compromised in any way, the referee shall toss it again. The captain’s original call may not be changed.
“For the second half, the captain who lost the pre-game toss is to have the first choice of the two privileges listed above, unless one of the teams lost its first and second half options, or unless the winner of the pregame toss deferred his choice to the second half, in which case he must choose 1 or 2 above. Immediately prior to the start of the second half, the captains of both teams must inform the referee of their respective choices. A captain’s first choice from any alternative privileges listed above is final and not subject to change.”