Australian punter Mitch Wishnowsky’s Super Bowl hopes are still alive after his San Francisco 49ers survived a wild ending to overcome the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL playoffs on Monday morning (AEDT).
Wishnowsky had four punts for an average of 44.8 yards as the 49ers prevailed 23-17, but the victory wasn’t without drama as a puzzling decision by the Cowboys on the final play sealed their fate.
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With 14 seconds remaining and no timeouts left, the Cowboys chose to run the ball through quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott picked up 17 yards before sliding, as the Cowboys desperately tried to get to spike the ball and stop the clock for the chance to run one more play.
However, in the chaos, the official collided with Prescott, delaying the spotting of the ball, and time expired to end the game.
Dak Prescott ran a QB draw with 14 seconds left and handed the ball to the center, who placed the ball himself.
However, the ref is supposed to spot the ball.
The move cost Dallas a chance at a game-winning play. The 49ers advance.
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— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 17, 2022
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) January 17, 2022
While many blamed the official for getting in the way, former Cowboy turned commentator Tony Romo said the play the Cowboys chose to run always carried the risk of time expiring.
“Of course that’s ridiculous for a game to end like that,” Romo said.
“Wow, I am livid if I’m a Cowboys fan.
“It was risky. They had time. Dak’s supposed to go, but you’re not supposed to go past 10, 12 yards. Once you get to 13,14 yards, the clocks runs and gets away from you.”
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 17, 2022
However, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy defended the play call.
“That was the best option, McCarthy said.
“Do you want to be running a Hail Mary play from the 50-yard line or do you want to be running five verticals from the 25-yard line.
“So that’s the decision, and it’s the right decision.
“The execution between us and the official spotting the ball obviously wasn’t in tune, but we shouldn’t have had any problem getting the ball spotted there.”
The result means Wishnowsky is the last Australian remaining in the post-season after the hopes of Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Mailata and Arryn Siposs were ended by Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Eagles were never really in the contest as Tampa raced out to a 31-0 lead, before eventually prevailing 31-15.
Speaking after the game, Mailata said he was optimistic about the direction the team was heading under rookie head coach Nick Siriani, despite their early exit from the playoffs.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 16, 2022
“I think he’s a great, phenomenal coach. We all bought into his process and his fundamentals,” Mailata said.
“We trusted in him and we invested ourselves. We got to the play-offs.
“We’re a young team with a young coach and this is only the beginning.
“We’re going to look back at this film and we’re going to learn from it. We’re going to make the corrections and carry that chip on our shoulder until next year.”
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