Commanders crushed by penalties in Week 4 loss to Cowboys - NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Commanders were on the losing end of Sunday's contest in Dallas, largely because they couldn't get out of their own way.

Washington was called for a penalty 11 times on the afternoon, giving up 136 penalty yards to Dallas. On the flip side, the Cowboys were called for just four penalties on the day, each one for just five yards. 

"I think the officiating was horrible," Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen told reporters present in Dallas postgame. "If I'm being honest, I think [the penalty calls were] very one-sided. But at the end of the day, that's not why we lost."

It wasn't just one side of the football that struggled to play by the rules for Washington, either, as both the offense and defense were each hampered by the official's calls all afternoon long.

On the Commanders' first offensive drive, Antonio Gibson found early success running the football. But once Washington crossed midfield, guard Trai Turner was called for a false start. Second-and-7 turned into second-and-12. Wentz was sacked on the ensuing play, one Turner was beat on. The Commanders punted two plays later and Turner was then replaced by Saahdiq Charles the following possession.

"Trai isn't quite where he needs to be yet," head coach Ron Rivera said. "The decision was to go with Saahdiq and get him in there."

Washington's next offensive drive began with a 12-yard Gibson run but was negated due to a holding call on center Nick Martin. That penalty set the Commanders back into first-and-20. Three plays later, they'd punt again. 

"Early in the game, we're moving the ball and we get a holding penalty," Rivera said. "When those things happen, it really messes things up."

The Burgundy and Gold's third offensive drive started off promising until Carson Wentz was flagged for an intentional grounding penalty. Washington did not recover from there and was forced to punt again.

Four offensive drives into the game, Washington was finally able to put points on the board. Wentz led the Commanders on a seven-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that was penalty-free. Even after a sloppy start, Washington was able to take a 7-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

Momentum continued to swing Washington's way on the Cowboys' ensuing drive, as Cooper Rush was picked off by Benjamin St-Juste. However, a late flag was thrown on the cornerback for illegal contact. Interception overturned. A dozen plays later, the Cowboys retook the lead on a Micahel Gallup touchdown.

An eerily similar situation occurred on the Cowboys' next offensive drive, too. On a second-and-17 play, Rush was intercepted by safety Kamren Curl, setting up the visitors with great field position. However, cornerback Wiliam Jackson III was called for defensive holding on the play, negating another Rush interception.

"It's the referee's decision to throw the flag," Rivera said. "We had guys in position [who] made plays both times. ... To get called for defensive holding, that one really made no sense to me."

"In this league, you can't really play aggressive anymore," Jackson III added.

The holding call on Jackson that negated Curl's interception was the first of three times that an official threw the flag in his direction on Sunday. The veteran cornerback was called for defensive pass interference on a deep shot late in the third quarter, one that gave the Cowboys 38 free yards.

"I feel like we can't do [anything] anymore," Jackson III said. "We're hand-fighting, we're going down the field and the guy jumps into you and they throw a flag. Receivers know how to get a flag and they know how to flop. At the end of the day, we have to keep playing. Hopefully, it'll go my way."

Rivera defended his cornerback on that play, too, saying postgame it "was a little surprising that one got called."

Washington's head coach was not only upset about some of the calls that went against his club but also the non-calls that he felt should have been flagged against the Cowboys.

As Allen noted, there were plenty of other reasons besides penalties why the Commanders left AT&T Stadium on the losing end. But the reality is it's quite difficult to win in the NFL when you're penalized 11 times in one game.

"Disappointed for the most part," Rivera said. "Certain penalties are concentration focused. Sure, it gets loud. Sure, the crowd gets into it. We've got to sit in there and be disciplined. We as coaches have to make sure it gets corrected because that was not good enough. We hurt ourselves and took ourselves out of certain opportunities."