LANDOVER, Md. –Tyrone Crawford has gotten his hands on a field goal attempt before, but the ball still went through the uprights. This time, it didn't.
Crawford's field-goal block in the second quarter Sunday proved to be a game-changer in the Cowboys' 33-19 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedExField.
With the Cowboys trailing 13-7, Crawford and his fellow defensive linemen got their hands up on a 36-yard try by Redskins kicker Nick Rose. Crawford's hand grazed the ball, and cornerback Orlando Scandrick grabbed it at the 10-yard line for what turned out to be the most critical gain of the game.
With a convoy of blockers in front him, Scandrick weaved through would-be tacklers on the left side of the field and returned the ball 86 yards to the Redskins' 4-yard line.
"I saw big guys. So, I knew that I could get it back to the line of scrimmage at the least, and I knew that I had a chance to just be running against all big guys," Scandrick said. "It's all big guys and a kicker and a punter. But the real credit on that goes to Tyrone. He blocked that thing. He rushed hard every time, believing he can get there, and that's what we talk about."
Running back Ezekiel Elliott scored a touchdown two plays later to regain the lead, 14-13. The Cowboys had just pulled off an improbable 10-point swing – and swung the momentum firmly in their favor.
It was Crawford's second career field goal block and the first by a Cowboys player since he blocked one Thanksgiving Day against Carolina in 2015.
"Coach (Rich) Bisaccia (the Cowboys' assistant head coach/special teams coordinator) does a good job of showing us the weak points," Crawford said. "We definitely try to open up a gap and get through there and hit the ball."
Scandrick's 86-yard return was the longest blocked field goal return by a Cowboy since Pat Watkins had a 68-yard return for a touchdown against Minnesota in 2007. It was also the first time an NFL player returned a blocked field goal at least 86 yards since Richard Sherman returned a blocked punt 90 yards against San Francisco in 2012.
The Cowboys would go on to score 19 unanswered points into the fourth quarter, sealing a difficult road win in rainy conditions against their NFC East rivals.
"It might have been the turning point and the key play in the whole game," quarterback Dak Prescott said.