NFL ref explains Cowboys' controversial final play in playoff loss to 49ers

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Referee explains 49ers-Cowboys controversial final play originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers-Dallas Cowboys NFC Wild Card Game ended in controversial fashion on Sunday at At&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

With the 49ers leading 23-17 with 14 seconds left, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott scrambled up the middle for a 17-yard gain to the 49ers' 24-yard line. However, the Cowboys had no timeouts left and weren't able to spike the ball before time expired.

There appeared to be some contact and confusion between Prescott and the umpire as he spotted the ball.

After the game, PFWA pool reporter Todd Archer spoke with referee Alex Kemp about the controversial finish. Here is the entire back-and-forth:

Question: Can you walk through the mechanics of the situation on the final play of the game, and what is supposed to happen with the umpire spotting the ball?

Kemp: "The umpire spotted the ball properly."

Question: Was the umpire in a reasonable length of space away from where the play was?

Kemp: "Yes, absolutely."

Question: Did you hear anything from New York, or from the in-house replay team before ending the game?

Kemp: "No, we discussed it on the field."

Question: When the umpire collides with the quarterback and the center, is there anything that changes, when there is a collision between the player and the umpire?

Kemp: "No, the umpire was simply spotting the ball properly. He collided with the players as he was setting the ball because he was moving it to the proper spot."

Question: What is the mechanic on the play when the officials are trailing the action when the clock is running down? Are the officials running with the play?

Kemp: "We're trailing the play, keeping proper distance so that we can identify fouls if there are any. Once the play is over, the umpire immediately goes to spot the ball and that's what he did."

Question: Is there any length or yardage that the officials are supposed to stay within as the play is unfolding?

Kemp: "No. Every play is different."

Question: Just to be clear, there was no replay assist or a call from New York on this play?"

Kemp: "That is correct, that's handled by the officials on the field."

Question: Would that be something that would be looked at before you called the end of the game? Or, once you called the end of the game, is that the end of the game?

Kemp: "That's the end of the game, once we confirmed it with the officials on the field."

Question: New York could be involved in this situation is if there's an issue with the line to gain, correct?

Kemp: "The could trigger a replay review, yes, exactly. And that wasn't the case here, of course."

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While that explanation likely won't please Cowboys fans, there's nothing that can be done now. The 49ers have advanced to play the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff, while the Cowboys' season is over.