Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium turned into laundry day.
Flags were spilled on the lawn non-stop for nearly four hours as the cowboys hosted the raiders. The reigning crew, led by Ed’s son Shawn Hochuli, produced 28 accepted penalties – 14 for each team – for a total of 276 yards (a franchise record of 166 against Dallas). Calls ranged from obvious false starts to an esoteric foul on Raiders center Andre James for a head bob. Dallas defenseman Anthony Brown has been flagged four times for pass interference, the last of which led Las Vegas to win 36-33 in overtime.
One of the strangest calls was to beat the passer-by at Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons in the third quarter. He tapped the helmet of a falling Raiders QB Derek Carr after Carr threw a pass to Hunter Renfrow. Carr’s head then made accidental contact with Parsons’ knee.
Parsons spoke with his assessment of the game and the enthusiastic nature of the crew for many players and fans.
“We should play football, not tag,” said Parsons. “I’m not here to support someone and play tag like they’re my best friend. I have a job to do and I understand [Carr is] out of pocket so I’ll go after the quarterback. “
“At the end of the day, football is an aggressive game and you will attack the ball and play through the ball and play the defender,” Parsons later said. “Ultimately it will come at a time … when are you really going to let us play?”
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It was a rhetorical question, but Parsons would not get a satisfactory answer if he inquired directly with the league office. The NFL strives to keep quarterbacks – and then everyone else on the field – healthy. That means calls like the roughing penalty.
One frustrated Cowboys owner / GM Jerry Jones surely wished the zebras had let them play more, especially with the PI penalties in mind.
“This is not a criticism of the rule. It’s a criticism of the way you use discretion in the game, ”said Jones via The Athletic’s Jon Machota.
“Oakland (sic) took advantage of the situation,” said Jones. “I call it ‘throwing ball’. That’s the right way to play it in a game like this[is]Just throw it out there and get yourself a penalty. “
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Cowboys trainer Mike McCarthy, who is a fan of not being punished by the league, kept it short and sweet when asked about Flagfest.
“Twenty-eight penalties – I don’t know what to say,” he said. “Write what you want; I’m all for it.”
It would come as no surprise to Parsons, Jones, or McCarthy to learn that the Hochuli crew raise the most flags in the league. According to statistics from pro-football-reference.com, the team had imposed 135 penalties in their last 10 games this season, 66 of them against home teams and 69 against visiting teams. As of Thursday, the total had risen to 163, which nflpenalties.com says will be the number 1 reigning crew for the remainder of Week 12. The three-flag difference between house and street did not change.
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And while the officials stayed true to Thursday, they didn’t get that close to making league history. The NFL record for penalties for both teams is 37, set by the Browns (21) and Bears (16) on November 25, 1951. Most since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970 are 35, by the Buccaneers (20). and Seahawks (15) on October 17, 1976.