Posted by Josh Katzowitz
If anybody was a goat from the victorious Cowboys squad during last Monday’s win against the Redskins, it was center Phil Costa’s ghastly performance whenever he had to snap the ball to Tony Romo. It was, as my CBSSports.com colleague Ryan Wilson pointed out, akin to a Benny Hill skit (albeit without that kick-ass, show-ending music).
Though Costa took the blame for his poor performance -- “There’s no blaming the refs,” he said. “It’s on me.” -- he also said it wasn’t totally on him. Instead, he blamed the Redskins defensive line for cheating, accusing them of calling out the snap count to keep Costa out of rhythm. It is, of course, illegal for a defensive player to try to screw up the cadence of the quarterback, but as CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman writes, teams from around the league (and across history) have performed the same maneuver.
Thing is, we don’t know for sure if the Redskins were cheating, because when they were asked about it Wednesday, they denied doing it in the first place.
“Honestly, I don’t understand how I could simulate his snap count,” said Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, who was suspected of such tactics because he used to play in Dallas. “Am I supposed to memorize the colors and the numbers he was saying? Honestly, I lost a lot of respect for Costa. If that was the case, then why didn’t any of their offensive linemen jump offsides? It makes no sense, because he’s lying. Just be a man and stand by your word. Everybody respects a man that tells the truth.”
While Romo said after the game the Cowboys would have to talk to the league about cracking down on this practice, the officials apparently questioned Bowen during the game.
“Even during the game, the ref came to us and asked if we were making fake snap counts, and I looked at Barry [Cofield] like, ‘Huh? Did you make a noise? I didn’t make a noise. I didn’t even hear anything,’” Bowen said. “So for him to say that, I’m disappointed, and I lost respect in him. He’s making excuses for messing up. And they’re trying to make me out to be some guy that I’m not. I’m not that type of person. I just line up and play ball.”
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan also made a good point, saying that when the center is mic’d up, it’s easy for an observer to determine whether anybody other than the quarterback is shouting. According to Shanahan, nobody from his team was saying a snap count.
To make matters even more interesting, Fox Sports’ Matt Mosley reported that Dallas’ Jason Hatcher said Bowen was NOT shouting out his own cadence. Mosley wrote that it could have been a Redskins linebacker instead.
Unless we hear the audio, there’s really no way to determine if Costa is telling the truth or if the Redskins really did cheat. But either way, the blame will be pinned on Costa. If yelling the snap count is a part of the league culture, you’d like to think the center who is playing in his own building could focus a little better than that. And if the Redskins weren’t doing it, then Costa just had one of the worst games out of a center that I’ve ever seen on any level of football.
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