The life of a true special teams player is to do the dirty work and rarely get noticed.
For the most part, that's a role C.J. Goodwin has learned to accept. But sometimes, even the special teams guys find themselves in the spotlight.
That was the case for Goodwin, who was named a special teams captain before the game, but because of new rules related to COVID concerns, he wasn't the one captain who went out for the coin toss.
Yet, who knew he would become such a pivotal player in the game?
Goodwin is the player who pounced on the onside kick in the final two minutes, giving the ball to the Cowboys for one final possession.
While onside kicks have become nearly impossible to recover, Goodwin said he had a good feeling this would be an exception, especially after watching Greg Zuerlein perform what is called the "watermelon" kick in practice.
"I knew we were going to get that ball. I told some of my teammates," Goodwin said. "(The Falcons) have never seen an onside kick like that. I figured they were going stand there looking crazy. So I just pounced on the ball when I got the opportunity."
The Cowboys took possession, drove down for a 46-yard field goal by Zuerlein to win the game 40-39.
Ironically enough, Goodwin was around the ball earlier in the game, almost at the same spot on the field. With the Cowboys trailing 14-0 and needing a spark, they attempted a fake punt pass from punter Chris Jones to Goodwin, who was wide open as the gunner. But Goodwin lost his balance and couldn't come up with the low pass, giving the ball back to Atlanta, which scored another field goal.
The Falcons were able to build the lead to 20-0 and lead 29-10 at halftime before the Cowboys outscored Atlanta 30-10 in the second half.
Goodwin has seen that happen to the Falcons from the other side. He began his career with the Falcons and spent two seasons as a key special teams player. Goodwin was in the game for Super Bowl LI when the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to stun the Falcons in overtime.
But this time, he got to experience the flip side.
"That's what Coach (McCarthy) teaches – to keep playing," Goodwin said. "He told us in the locker room, 'we're going to find out what kind of men we are.' We found out that we're resilient."
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