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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler vented his frustration with the officiating in his team’s 34-31 defeat to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round on Sunday.
Officials flagged Butler for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he entered the huddle but didn’t participate in a play in the first quarter.
“Never heard of it in my life,” Butler said of the penalty, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater. “[We] couldn’t beat the stripes. You can quote me on that.”
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett concurred with Butler in that he’d never seen the rule enforced during a game, per ESPN’s Ed Werder.
The Dallas Morning News‘ Jori Epstein provided the explanation from the NFL rulebook regarding Butler’s infraction: “If [a player] approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate, he is required to participate in at least one play before being withdrawn. Violations of this rule may be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Fox Sports officiating expert Mike Pereira said the officiating crew was correct in calling unsportsmanlike conduct:
My postgame video on #GBvsDAL:
The Brice Butler penalty explained & the huge call the officials got right in a crucial moment. pic.twitter.com/2TCXnymVy6
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 16, 2017
For Cowboys fans, Sunday’s defeat will be deja vu to a certain extent after an officiating decision played a role in Dallas’ postseason exit at the hands of the Packers in the 2015 NFC Divisional Round.
Referees ruled what appeared to be a catch by Dez Bryant incomplete on a fourth down in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys down 26-21. Like the ruling on Butler, it was the correct call by the letter of the law, which offered little comfort to the Dallas faithful.