The Cowboys blocked a punt by the Broncos at a critical moment on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the play still ended with a Broncos first down.
Since a Cowboys player touched the ball beyond the line, the Broncos effectively recovered a fumble.
The Dallas Cowboys needed a spark on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, trailing 16-0 at halftime, and at first, it looked like they got one.
The Cowboys' defense stepped up, forcing a three-and-out from the Denver offense on their first possession of the second half - or so they thought.
The Broncos' punt was blocked by wide receiver Malik Turner, who got a free run up the gut at the punter. The ball deflected forward off of Turner's hand, was touched by Cowboys corner Nashon Wright, who couldn't control the ball. Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith eventually fell on the ball.
Griffith did his best to carry the ball forward but was stopped short of the first down.
Most NFL fans, myself included, likely thought that this meant the Cowboys were set to take over possession deep in Broncos territory. Denver had failed to pick up the necessary yards on fourth down, thus giving over possession.
But as officials would explain, the Broncos instead got to keep the ball with a fresh set of downs. According to NFL rules, because the Cowboys had touched the blocked punt after it had traveled past the line of scrimmage, and the Broncos were eligible to recover it.
Wright's failure to control the ball after it was blocked is the equivalent of any other muffed punt.
After the game, Turner took ownership of the mistake, saying he was trying to make a play.
The Broncos took the drive to the Cowboys 9-yard line before settling for a field goal to extend their lead to 19-0. They went to win 30-16.
Had the Cowboys been able to recover the punt they had so emphatically blocked, the entire momentum of the game could have shifted - a touchdown and a two-point conversion would have cut the deficit to just one score and put the Broncos on their back heels.
Instead, a wayward touch of the football handed possession and the game right back to the Broncos.
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