Arlington, Texas – Duck Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys had their offense on the ground ready to line up deep in the Broncos’ field after a big special teams play early in the second half. He didn’t even get a chance to snap the ball.
On a day when NFC ex-leading Cowboys and their NFL-best offense didn’t score until a 30-point drop in the fourth quarter, they didn’t get to keep the ball after blocking a punt at 30-16. Damage to Denver Broncos.
“This is the climax of despair,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “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.”
Already down 16-0 on Sunday, the Cowboys’ defense had three-outs to start the second half. Malik Turner then blocked the punt, but rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright touched the ball when it crossed the original line of scrimmage, and was recovered by Denver linebacker Jonas Griffith on 19. It was 12 yards short of what the Broncos needed for the first time. Down, but he holds the ball and drives it for another field goal.
“It’s a big sport, and there’s a hard lesson to be learned there,” said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. “It would have been a huge pace game for us, especially coming into halftime. You have one chance to reset your jaw, and you get out there and get a three-out, and block the punt, and are in the scoring position. And you’re on board, and maybe you can do something with that momentum.”
The Cowboys (6–2)’s six-game winning streak was broken, but still reached the midpoint of their season with a significant NFC East lead. They are at home again next week against Atlanta and will play three of their four matches on the road after that.
Prescott was back after missing a game due to a strained right calf, although he missed a few throws before passing two short TDs to Turner in the final 4:08 of the game.
“We didn’t throw and catch the ball like we normally do, and it was by no means our best. Obviously our worst year,” Prescott said, though he was physically well was feeling.” It was okay. It was great, I mean, done a lot, a lot to get out of pocket. No problem, didn’t feel it. I’m fine.”
Prescott finished 19 of 39 for 232 yards with those two TDs and one interception, ending his franchise-record streak of four consecutive games with at least three passing touchdowns.
Things had started off so well for the Cowboys when Toni Pollard returned the game’s opening kickoff from 54 yards to Denver territory. But they didn’t even get down the first time, with Ezekiel Elliott filling in for a 1-yard loss on the fourth and -1.
After forcing a three-and-out, Prescott had a 32 yard pass to Amari Cooper, while Dallas got to 20 before bypassing a field goal. Prescott threw an imperfection in fourth and second.
Brandon McManus kicked a 27-yard field goal in the middle of the third quarter after a blocked punt recovery by the Broncos to lead 19-0.
“This stuff hurts, I feel like we’re not getting any momentum, nothing is going on,” said rookie linebacker Micah Parsons. “We have to bend, not break. Things like this are going to happen and we have to bend down and try to get the ball back. I mean, there’s no excuse.”
On the ensuing drive, Dallas was his fourth of 40 and -1 on the go again. Prescott, who was scrambling to the right, could have possibly run for the first down, instead he overthrew CD Lamb after going behind a defender.
As for the blocked punt recovery, there was a tweet on the verified account for the NFL caretaker explaining why the Broncos got the ball back.
“In the #DENvsDAL, the punt is blocked and goes past the line of the melee, where it is touched by the receiving team. Since the receiving team touches the ball beyond the line of scuffle, the kicking team is eligible to recover the ball. Dane fixes the ball, but can’t move it,” the tweet read.
McCarthy, who said he was well aware of the rule, was asked if he liked it.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s not going to solve anything today.”