McCarthy describes what happened on Dak's game-ending scramble


The ending to Sunday's 49ers-Dallas Cowboys NFC Wild Card Game certainly was a bizarre one.

With 31 seconds remaining in regulation and needing a touchdown and an extra point to win the game, quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' offense quickly marched into 49ers territory, setting up what should have been a Hail Mary attempt in the final seconds of the game.

On the final play, Prescott scrambled to the San Francisco 24-yard line and then, after appearing to run into the referee, couldn't spike the ball to stop the clock. The bizarre final play sealed a 23-17 49ers win at AT&T Stadium.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy explained what he saw on that final play.

"I've never seen that come down the way it came down, as far as the collision between the umpire and the quarterback," McCarthy told reporters after the game. "We were trying to get inside the 30-yard line to set up the last play. The mechanics were intact, and I felt from our end of it, the communication I was given on the sideline was that they were reviewing it and they were going to put time back on the clock. The next thing I know, they're running off the field."

The play design and Prescott's decision to scramble was head-scratching because the Cowboys didn't have any timeouts. It wouldn't have mattered if Dallas could spike the ball in time, but an attempt at the end zone would have been easier if the Cowboys were able to complete another pass on second-and-1.


McCarthy was content with the play and Prescott's decision to scramble.

"I have no problem with the [play call]," McCarthy added. "We called a church clock situation. This is something we practice every Friday and Saturday. We're trying to get inside the 20-yard line, we want the last play to come down to it. It would have been some form of five vertical pass concept. We had two sets based on where we were going to be, based on the final yardage. Based on that time, 14 seconds, we should clearly get the ball spiked there.

"I'm as shocked as anybody on offense that we didn't get to that last play."

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As the Cowboys' season ends on one of the most bizarre plays in NFL history, the 49ers' season will live to see another week. San Francisco will face the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional-round game next Sunday at Lambeau Field.