FRISCO, Texas – Sometimes it's truly just not your day.
That's not to let the Cowboys off the hook too much for a woeful performance against the Denver Broncos. But in analyzing the team's blocked punt that wasn't in the third quarter, it's hard to do much more than shake your head.
"I've got about 200 punt blocks on tape over the last 10 years, and this is only the third time I've seen it," Fassel said.
Ironically, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has been part of two of those occasions. Something similar happened in a 2013 game against Baltimore when McCarthy was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. In that circumstance, at least, the Ravens weren't able to convert the second opportunity into points – whereas the Broncos were able to get a field goal on Sunday.
"It's a tough rule we have there where you get penalized for making a great play," said Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones on Monday. "It's just a hard one to swallow. You were starting to wonder if everything that can go wrong will go wrong."
It's a tough rule, but the officials' interpretation was correct. Rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright was just beyond the line of scrimmage when he tried to field the punt that Malik Turner was able to get his hands on.
"The ball got blocked right to him, so of course he'd try and handle it," Fassel said. "I said a million out of a million times, if the ball got blocked right to me I would, too. Because you really lose a sense of exactly where the line of scrimmage was."
Fassel agreed that it's common knowledge that his players understand that a kick that goes beyond the line of scrimmage shouldn't be touched, as it can then be recovered by the kicking team – it was simply Wright's close proximity to the line of scrimmage that made it a difficult situation to deal with.
Instead of a game-swinging play, Denver linebacker picked up the ricochet and the Broncos were able to keep the ball despite not picking up a first down on the return.
"I agree with you, you'd like to see the rule change," McCarthy said. "But what are going to do?"