As close as Monday's win against the Redskins was, it very easily could've been given away had the Cowboys defense not come up with a big stop late in the fourth quarter.
On a second-and-6 play with 5:26 to play, Redskins ball on their own 35-yard line, cornerback Alan Ball was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a football-jarring hit against Washington receiver Santana Moss.
Upon review, Ball did not violate the league's rules against launching himself, leading with his head or striking a defenseless receiver in the head. His hit didn't look all that different from a shot Washington safety LaRon Landry took on the Cowboys' Laurent Robinson in the first half. Apparently, the league office agrees, as Ball is not being fined for the penalty.
"I'm all in the clear," Ball said. "It's kind of weird, but I guess refs see things different from different angles and different eyes. If I was a referee, I might have to call a certain thing a certain way, too. It's just how they saw it and how they called it at that point in the game . . . All I can do is ask him what he saw.
"He thought I led with the head and hit him with the head. From his angle that might have seemed the case, but looking back at it again, I don't think so."
As things worked out, the Cowboys weren't hurt badly by the penalty. DeMarcus Ware registered a sack two plays later, and the 'Skins eventually punted the ball back to the Cowboys, who went on the go-ahead drive.
After looking at replays, Cowboys coaches see absolutely nothing wrong with the hit, maybe somewhat ironic because Ball's tackling ability was the subject of months of worry when he was moved to safety in 2010.
"I would argue that they could use that hit on some kind of a film on how you're supposed to hit somebody," 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. Those are bang-bang plays. The officials see them the way they see them."