The first play of the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game on Sunday afternoon was quite unremarkable. Dak Prescott hit Brandin Cooks on a quick in-route for four yards. The ball came free but only after Cooks had been laying down for a few seconds so everyone prepared for the second snap of the game. Then Brian Daboll struck. For some reason.
Play was halted before Prescott could take the second snap of the game because Daboll threw a challenge flag. Then, apparently, he tried to take it back. The referees said the Giants were using a timeout no matter what because he threw the challenge flag, so Daboll said screw it and used the challenge anyway.
This is apparently what happened. All over... this play. In which Cooks was so obviously down that you have to consider Daboll's decision to challenge the worst of the entire season.
Like, it's not even close! And the circumstances do not absolve Daboll. Sometimes a coach will make a bad challenge on a close catch and they're pressed for time because the offense is rushing to the line or whatever. Kyle Shanahan did exactly that in the 49ers-Jaguars contest earlier today. But this was a four-yard gain on the first play of the game!
Obviously there was a big potential payoff here for the Giants, who entered the day as two-touchdown underdogs and are starting their third-string quarterback. A fumble on the first play may very well have been their only chance to swing the momentum. That's probably why Daboll made the split-second decision he did. But it was so obviously not a fumble that we have to ask if he was even paying attention or if he was doing something else and realized there might be a fumble and hurled the flag with no further thought.
Regardless of the why of the situation it's a horrific challenge and probably the worst of the year to this point when you take into account the likelihood of being successful. Just a zero percent chance to win. And on the first play of the game, which draws even more attention to the situation.
The Giants' laughably bad season continues, full steam ahead.