FRISCO, Texas — Special teams coordinator John Fassel is known for aggressive in-game decisions, and Sunday's game against the Chargers was no different.
Monday, Fassel explained his decision to try a punt block attempt at the two-minute warning before halftime, which resulted in a roughing the kicker penalty and an automatic first down for the Chargers at the Dallas 39-yard line.
"The thought process was, I think Cowboys fans aren't the play-it-safe type. So I was going to give them what they wanted: come after their ass on the punt rush. So I hope they're happy with it," Fassel said. "We came after him. It was kind of the mindset going into the game that we're going to come after this football. And you can sure debate everything. But I'm still not so sure that we actually roughed him."
Fortunately for Dallas, the Chargers missed a 44-yard field goal just before half, preserving the Cowboys' 14-11 lead in an eventual 20-17 win.
"Any time you rush the punt, there's a risk," Fassel said. "But last week, Pittsburgh was up by three points in the fourth quarter and they rushed the punt and blocked it and ran it in for the touchdown. So the reward is high, the risk is high."
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was asked about the punt rush penalty during his weekly segment on 105.3 The Fan.
"To be very candid with you, I'm a little more conservative," Jones said. "We won a national championship with special teams when I was in college, so I'm a fanatical special teams interested fan, whatever. I do believe that the bad plays in the kicking game are the equivalent of turnovers. They usually change possession and can change field position. And, so I really like to choose my spots on taking those kind of risks. You're taking a risk every time you try to block a punt."
"I played on a team that actually punted from the 29-yard line going in to have better field position. … We spent our first 25 minutes of every practice doing nothing but special teams. We would practice with broom handles behind our back so we wouldn't use our hands and so we wouldn't get those penalties. And so it was a really conservative way but a big emphasis on special teams. And I'm sure as we go along, that will find its way going forward."