Dak Prescott’s 2021 season ended in chaos.
In the closing 32 seconds of the 49ers’ 23-17 playoff win over the Cowboys in the NFC wild-card round Sunday, Prescott and his offense began a potential game-winning drive at the Dallas 20-yard line. Three quick passes moved the football up to the San Francisco 41.
With 14 seconds left and no timeouts, the Cowboys called for a quarterback sneak. Prescott sprinted ahead and slid feet-first inside the 25. He then tried to get his team lined up in time to spike the football and stop the clock for one final play, but the umpire controversially made contact with Prescott and did not spot the ball in time. The game’s final second disappeared before Prescott could handle the snap and spike the football into the turf.
“As I was getting behind [center] Tyler [Biadasz], saw four seconds left,” Prescott told reporters after the game. “I thought there was obviously time to make sure everybody was set, and then honestly, just got hit from behind [by the umpire]. Still, when I got up, I saw two seconds. I thought I could get the snap and get it down before time expired.”
After the game, Prescott insisted he spiked the football in time. But when he looked up, he saw a glee-filled San Francisco team storm the AT&T Stadium field.
“I thought I did,” he said. “I didn’t hear what the ref said, what their announcement was. I just saw them running off the field and the Niners running on the field and celebrating, so understood what had happened."
Prescott admitted he also could’ve slid earlier on his quarterback sneak to preserve a few precious seconds.
“If we’re looking at it now, I could say, yeah, I could’ve went down 5 yards earlier,” Prescott said. “I thought I got us in position and thought I had time left to clock the ball. It’s something that we’ve practiced over and over to get us into a last-play scenario.”
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The 49ers will take it.
They will get back to work Monday to prepare for their Saturday night divisional-round clash with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.