Cowboys' Unlikely Hail Murray Fueled By Phantom Gain

In a season in which they’ve had more than their share of bad bounces, the Cowboys on Sunday caught a good break.

Before their Hail Murray to beat the Redskins, they were the recipient of a phantom two-yard gain. I’m not saying the referees’ gaffe via mis-spotting the ball helped them win. But it certainly didn’t hurt.

After DeMarco Murray made the horribly wrong decision to attempt bounce his 3rd-and-1 run outside, then backward, he was eventually tackled squarely on the 12-yard line. That made it 4th-and-Goal – 4th-and-Season – from the 12.

Make that the 10. How’s that?

Don’t exactly know, other than to explain that the officials spotted the ball at the 10. It’s just wrong. And for the Cowboys it’s just lucky. No way they ruled forward progress because Murray was still churning to reverse field and attempting to turn the corner when tackled. He actually fell forward to the 12 from initial contact around the 12 ½ or 13-yard line.

But, sure enough, when Cowboys’ center Travis Frederick lined up over the ball on 4th down he did so smack dab on the 10. Not saying Tony Romo still wouldn’t have found Murray in the flat for a touchdown - his first ever receiving touchdown. I just know I saw what you saw – Murray being tackled one yard into the end zone on the season-saving score. So, yeah, two yards could've mattered big time.

The call climaxed a crazy drive.

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Because of Murray’s backtracking, he lost 11 yards that turned out to only be nine yards, but nonetheless yanked his day’s rushing total below 100 yards. The significant loss allowed Romo the strange stat of throwing for 92 yards on the Cowboys’ game-winning 87-yard march. And it, of course, allowed Murray to scamper in from 10 yards on the biggest 12-yard gain of the season.

Horrible spot. Happy ending. 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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