All the broken tackles and hearts that Pinballing rookie Javonte Williams The Denver Broncos abandoned on Sunday in their wake didn’t do justice to the elusiveness displayed in the making of one of the biggest shockers of the season.
The Broncos avoid two big booby traps on their way to crush the Dallas Cowboys 30-16 as the double-digit road underdog On Sunday when they joined the Chiefs, the Giants and the Jaguars as a team to start the day in .500 or less and beat a division leader.
First, the Broncos escaped another COVID-19 quarterback quagmire like they found themselves last year when all their QBs were torn apart ahead of their game against the Saints.
Then, he dodged a pace-swing turnover thanks to an obscure NFL rule that allowed him to keep possession after a blocked punt by an unblocked Dallas defender.
After trailing 16–0 at the break, the Cowboys forced a three-out to start the second half and Malik Turner freed the Cowboys 17 at fourth and -14 to block Sam Martin’s punt. .
The ball bounced off Cowboys cornerback Nahshon Wright on the 18th and Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith trapped the ball on 20 and ran for 28 before stopping for 3 yards from the first-down marker.
The crowd of 93,503 erupted into a roar, when Denver had to hold on as the Cowboys touched a loose ball just beyond the line of scrimmage and the Broncos recovered, only to be silenced in foolish silence.
“I really didn’t know the rules,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
he must have.
Think back to Thanksgiving night 1993, when Leon Lett touched down a blocked field goal on an icy field at the old Texas stadium that had a hole in the roof, and Jeff Dellenbach of Miami recovered it with 3 seconds remaining.
This allowed the Dolphins to score a second chance, in the last-second field, and win the game. Oddly, Miami did not win another game that season and the Cowboys did not lose again, winning their second straight Super Bowl.
Back on Sunday.
“It sucked that we didn’t get the ball there,” said the Cowboys running back to Ezekiel Elliot.
“It’s the height of despair,” Jones said. “It’s putting the cake in front of you and letting you put your finger in the icing and then turning around and taking the whole (thing) back.”
The Broncos had to start in the first and 10 of their 19 and take a 19–0 lead on the last of three field goals from Brandon McManus.
The Broncos would make it 30-0 before the Cowboys scored against a bevy of backups.
“It would have been a huge pace game for us,” said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, “especially coming in after halftime, you have a chance to reset your jaw and you’re back there and you get three -Outs and blocks get punts and you’re in the scoring position, you’re on the board, and maybe you can do something with that pace.”
But he knew the rules.
“Yeah, I had one in Baltimore a few years ago,” McCarthy said.
Wright should have gotten out of the way, but “I think his instincts worked,” McCarthy said. “He is a young player and we will definitely learn from it. But then, we all understand what the rules are.”
Broncos coach Vic Fangio does too.
“Yeah, I knew they touched it before the line of scuffle and I wasn’t sure we’d get it,” Fangio said, “but luckily the officers got it right.”
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones sits on the competition committee and may push for the rule to be changed so that the kicking team fails to recover the blocked punt, but the receiving team gets possession.
Fangio, after his biggest win in 41 matches as head coach, admitted that almost never happened.
Denver had a pregame scare when backup quarterback Drew Locke was dismissed after testing positive for COVID-19, and Teddy Bridgewater had a test error that forced him to delay his warmup routine .
Fangio was troubled on November 29, when he had to turn to a practice squad receiver as his emergency signal caller after all of his QBs were eliminated under COVID-19 protocol.
During the team’s flight to Denver, Locke learned someone close to him had the virus, so he was isolated and tested on landing.
On Monday, the Broncos put him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Unlike the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, the lock is inoculated. So, whenever he tests negative twice, 24 hours apart, he can come back.
Rodgers tested positive on Wednesday and had to miss the Packers’ performance with the Chiefs on Sunday. He must test negative to return on November 13, a day before Green Bay hosts the Seahawks.
After misleading the public about his vaccination status, Rodgers offers a 45-minute explanation During his regular appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show on YouTube and SiriusXM” Friday.
Rodgers said he was allergic to an ingredient in mRNA vaccines and a rare side effect of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said he instead received homeopathic remedies from his doctor and asked the NFL to count it as a vaccination. The league refused.
Rodgers said he did not wear a mask at his indoor news conferences, as required by the COVID-19 protocol agreed upon by the players’ union, because he felt the special rule was useless. And he said he took Invermectin, an anti-parasite that the Food and Drug Administration has dismissed as ineffective in treating COVID-19.
“I’m not some sort of anti-wax flat earther,” Rodgers insisted. “I am someone who is a critical thinker. I march to the beat of my own drum. I believe strongly in physical autonomy.”
Rodgers lost an endorsement for his anti-vaccination stance and was ridiculed on “SNL”. The league is investigating Rodgers and the Packers for COVID-19 violations that could result in fines for both and the loss of a draft pick for the team.
With contributions from AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon and AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawking.
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