Photo from TheWrap.
By Terrance Turner
Jan. 16, 2022
The San Francisco 49ers scored an upset win today against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. The game was simulcast on CBS, Paramount Plus, and Nickelodeon, which broadcast the Bears-Saints Wild Card game last year. Analysts Nate Burleson and Gabrielle Neveah Green returned to the broadcast booth for the game; the “slime cannons” were back as well, firing every time someone scored a touchdown or field goal. The lead actor on CBS’ “Young Sheldon” appeared to explain calls like holding and delay of game; “Young Dylan” served as the sideline reporter.
The 49ers got the scoring started rather quickly. Elijah Mitchell got things rolling with a 4-yard rushing touchdown; kicker Robbie Gould added the extra-point. The slime cannons fired for the TD, and Spongebob Squarepants awaited Gould for the extra-point kick:
Six minutes later, the team added to its lead when Gould kicked a 53-yard field goal. That would be the last points of the first quarter. Gould added another field goal (this one from 40 yards) during the second quarter. San Francisco led 13-0 with 9:44 remaining in the half.
The Cowboys cut the lead when quarterback Dak Prescott found wide receiver Amari Cooper for a 20-yard touchdown. (Kicker Greg Zuerlein made the extra point.) The 49ers defense suffered a major blow when defensive end Nick Bosa suffered a concussion. But Gould kicked another field goal (from 52 yards) to make it 16-7 at halftime.
The third quarter was scoreless except for one play, when the Cowboys’ drive ended in disaster. Prescott suffered a double whammy: first he was sacked by the 49ers defense for a loss of 13 yards; then he was intercepted by K’Wuan Williams. Prescott would pay dearly for that pick; San Francisco WR Deebo Samuel lined up as a running back and rushed 26 yards for the score. The 49ers went up 23-7.
But the tide turned dramatically in the fourth quarter. After a 51-yard field goal by Zuerlein, the Cowboys notched a pick of their own: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown. Now it was Dallas’s turn to cash in on an interception: on 3rd and goal, Prescott took it himself and ran five yards to the house. His rush TD made it 23-17.
The 49ers were forced to punt after their drive; the Cowboys turned it over on downs on theirs. It was still a one-score game as the clock ticked down under two minutes. San Francisco had the ball. Dallas defensive end Randy Gregory got flagged for defensive holding; then San Francisco offensive tackle Trent Williams got flagged for a false start. 49ers center Alex Mack narrowly avoided a penalty himself when he got tangled up with Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The two started hand-fighting, which got so out of hand that Mack ended up slung to the ground. But the refs apparently didn’t notice.
The game came down to a dramatic last-minute run by Samuel. He was tackled just as he approached the first-down marker. The initial call was that he’d gotten the first down. But the call was then placed under review. Nate Burleson pointed out that, judging from when Samuel’s knee hit the ground, he appeared to be just a hair short of the first down:
Photo taken by the author.
In the end, the referee decided to re-measure the spot. When they did, the officiating crew determined that the ball was just short. It was 4th and inches. With less than a minute left, coach Kyle Shanahan let the clock run down and then called a timeout. With only 40 seconds remaining, the 49ers elected to go for it — and were promptly flagged for a false start.
San Francisco elected to punt. Dallas began their drive at the 20-yard line, with no timeouts and just 32 seconds left. Astonishingly, Prescott lobbed the pass to WR Cedric Wilson, who then tossed it to fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb. RB Tony Pollard picked up a first-down on the next play. Then tight end Dalton Schultz picked up nine yards, taking the Cowboys to 2nd and 1.
With just 14 seconds left to play, San Francisco called a timeout. When play resumed Prescott took off, running and sliding for a first down. But with jut six seconds on the clock, the Cowboys had to reassemble, line up, and spike the ball. But they simply ran out of time, and the referee declared the game over. San Francisco won, 23-17.