- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Never mind the unnecessary roughness flag thrown on the play.
The Cowboys believe that it was a textbook, legal hit by Ball. The NFL didn’t fine Ball for the hit, a sign the league office came to the same conclusion as the Cowboys.
“I would argue that they could use that hit on some kind of a film about how you’re supposed to hit somebody,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I think he did a really good job striking first with his shoulder and then hitting the receiver in the chest area rather than launching and using his helmet or hitting that guy in the helmet.”
Garrett acknowledged that it’s a bang-bang play that forces officials to make a difficult decision, because a few inches separate a perfect form tackle from a 15-yard penalty. But Garrett firmly believes Ball was trying to do the right thing and executed well.
“We’re not going to tell him that that was the wrong thing to do,” Garrett said. “We want him to play that way.”
Ball said he might try to take a different angle the next time he’s in a similar situation, but the only thing he really wishes he would have done differently is separate Moss from the ball.
While Ball was pleased not to receive a FedEx package from the league, he said it’s frustrating that a legal hit cost the Cowboys 15 yards.
“Yeah, especially in a game like that where it could come down to anything,” said Ball, who was fined $5,000 in 2009 for an unnecessary roughness penalty against Kansas City's Bobby Wad. “Fifteen yards like that, you don’t want to give that up late in a game. I don’t think when I’m out there about how to tackle. I guess that’s what the NFL wants you to do.”
Ball had a brief conversation with the official who threw the flag after the play and tried to forget about the penalty immediately after that.
“All I can do is ask him what he saw,” Ball said. “He tells me what he saw, and that’s as good as it can get. I’ve just got to go on to the next play. He thought I led with the head and I hit him in the head. From his angle, that may have seemed to be the case. Looking back on it again, I don’t think so.”
Neither did his head coach.