Sunlight hinders Cowboys again, blinds Michael Gallup on 3rd-down conversion attempt

Sunlight at AT&T Stadium has twice disrupted a Cowboys third-down conversion attempt since last January.

FILE--Sunlight streams through the glass doors of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday,...
FILE–Sunlight streams through the glass doors of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, September 11, 2016, as the New York Giants run a fourth quarter play against the Dallas Cowboys.(Staff Photographer)
FRISCO — Chances are the sun has set on this variable the rest of the way. Last Saturday, the Cowboys played their final home game on the 2022 schedule, and a postseason return to AT&T Stadium is far from assured as the NFC’s probable fifth seed.

So, on the list of topics impacting the Cowboys moving forward, natural lighting is far down on it.

That makes the matter no less head-scratching.

Wide receiver Michael Gallup walked Monday from his locker to the weight room. Along the short stroll, he was asked if he saw the football Saturday on a second-quarter, third-down fade route that required him to run toward the back-left pylon, look over his shoulder and stare into the sun. “No,” Gallup said.

Little else needed to be said. It happened again.

There are others oddities with this Cowboys offense, like how reverse-style plays seldom result in positive gains. By this reporter’s count, when including an end-around pass foiled Saturday via a 10-yard sack against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys have used the end-around concept — not to be confused with the quicker-developing jet sweep — eight times this year and lost 8 yards.

That is despite running back Tony Pollard’s 11-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans.

The sun at AT&T Stadium is another peculiarity.

Sunlight pokes through the stadium glass at different times and different angles during afternoon home games. In the playoffs last season, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson was unable to track a Dak Prescott pass on a route that called for Wilson to plant on a turf patch blinded by the sun and look back for the football. He did not see it. An opportunity to convert third down, albeit third-and-20, was squandered in a playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

On Saturday, the Cowboys committed a similar infraction, sending Gallup to the field’s only playable section where the sun posed an impediment. The mistake potentially cost the team four points before halftime in a 40-34 win.

Much is happening on an NFL sideline during games. Amid the personnel groupings and substitutions and play calling and other in-game communication and adjustments, perhaps it is unfair to expect offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to monitor where exactly the sun is at that particular moment and factor the celestial giant into his call sheet.

And maybe it was unfair Monday to ask coach Mike McCarthy if the coaching staff needs to be more cognizant of the sun when sending players on certain route trees in certain situations during afternoon home games.

“Yeah, it’s all Kellen’s fault,” McCarthy said with a subtle grin. “He was very irritated that he called that right there. So we’ll be better next time. How in the hell do you want me to answer that question? Merry Christmas, Michael. It is nice seeing you, too.”

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