Jerry Jones: Broncos’ bad play was rewarded by “very odd rule” on Cowboys’ blocked punt

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings
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On Sunday the Cowboys blocked a Broncos punt, but the ball ended up going back to the Broncos because a Cowboys player touched the ball after it had crossed the line of scrimmage. It was an obscure rule that few knew.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was not a fan of a rule that rewards a team for getting its punt blocked.

It’s a very odd rule because it rewards the team that makes the bad play,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News. “That’s a fundamental premise of rule making is that we try to not have these plays that you shouldn’t be rewarded for reward you. In that particular case, you could envision — smiling here — you could envision the kicker, rather than turning the ball over, just kicking the ball right to a defensive lineman and shanking it off him and having a recovery like an onside kick. And, so, you have to have two people to make the play, the one that blocks it, and of course, the one that tries to pick it up. But, that’s absurd of course. No, I guess I knew the rule, but I’d never seen it applied when it applied to us.”

Many of the more obscure rules on punts are 100 or more years old, have their roots in rugby, and feel out of place in the modern NFL. That one came back to bite the Cowboys on Sunday.

51 responses to “Jerry Jones: Broncos’ bad play was rewarded by “very odd rule” on Cowboys’ blocked punt

  1. What do you expect? This is the league that makes it okay for seven guys to have a pretend photoshoot for a end zone celebration, but penalizes players for staring down a guy they just legally hit. NOTHING about the NFL makes sense lately.

  2. They should have known the rule. It technically becomes a fumble or muff if it’s touched after it crosses the line of scrimmage. No different than what happened to Leon Lett.

  3. It’ll be gone at the next Owners’ meeting, rest assured. Not often you can say, “Jerry has a point” but here, he’s correct.

  4. It’s neither odd nor obscure. You want to return a punt, but can’t control the ball, it’s a muff… especially if the ball passed the line of scrimmage. How often was the ball touched by a rusher’s fingertips but was still punted away and nobody gave two bits about it?

  5. Actually, he is totally wrong about this.

    First, it only becomes a live ball when the receiving team touches it once it has passed the LOS.

    Second kicking at a lineman of the receiving team is a high risk, low probability of success play. The punter is more likely to hit his own man. This basically equates to going for it on fourth down given the gamble made on field position and I think the offense would have a better chance to convert it.

  6. Obscure rule?

    Everyone who’s ever watched a football game knows once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage on a punt if it’s touched but not handled by the receiving team its a live ball.
    Just because it was blocked shouldn’t change that, you gotta tell your players to either stay the hell away from it or make sure they can handle it.

    There’s nothing wrong with this rule.

    Now the rule where a player fumbles the ball out of bounds on the one yard line retaining possession where as the same fumble travels another yard and goes out the side of the end zone is a turnover, now that rule makes no sense.

  7. So how is that different than a regular muffed punt? Because the punt was blocked? Are there no partially blocked punts that are fielded, muffed, or fair caught? How would this situation really be any different than a receiving player making contact with a punt but the kicking team recovers? It doesn’t sound like a odd rule at all… it sounds to have happened just as the rule is written for every punt.

  8. Sure was a crazy bounce of the ball, but the main concern was that McCarthy didn’t have your team ready for that game.

  9. Of course Jerry would complain, but the rule isn’t obscure. Anytime a punt crosses the line of scrimmage, the same rules apply. It doesn’t matter whether the punt was clean, whether someone tipped the ball slightly, or whether a more substantial force was applied to the ball as in this game. The end result is that the receiving team failed to block the punt and then touched the ball down field (i.e., across the line of scrimmage).

    The Broncos were not rewarded for a bad play. They were the beneficiaries of a play that the Cowboys did not fully execute, even though it looked like a good play.

  10. a punt that goes downfield- ie past the line of scimmage is a live ball regardless of how much of it is “blocked, deflected etc” while behind the line of scrimmage. it was a bad bounce, get over it. cant change rules everytime a bad bounce goes against you.

  11. He’s right. That’s something the rules committee should fix. That one doesn’t happen often, but it’s a bad rule.

  12. Jerry Jones saw the rule applied on an incredibly memorable play that seems to have slipped his mind. It was on a blocked field goal so a little different than a punt, but the premise remains that if the blocked ball goes beyond the line of scrimmage then an offensive player cannot touch the ball or it is recoverable. His player, Leon Lett, did just that by running down the field and running into the football leading to Miami being awarded the ball at the one yard line. This was on Thanksgiving Day in 1993 in a game played in the snow so many people, Jerry included, saw it.

  13. Just tell your players not to touch the ball after a punt is blocked and it appears to be going past the line of scrimmage, easy. This clip will always be studied by every special teams coach.

  14. Without the blocked punt being recovered by the Broncos the Cowboys would still have lost big time. Jerry please stop whining

  15. Jerry’s example is flawed on many levels mostly because Jerry never let facts get in the way of a good story. The rule is far more complicated than Jerry’s example and to my understanding has actually never happened in the NFL before that game.

    1. Blocked behind line of scrimmage.
    2. Then goes beyond the line of scrimmage.
    3. Touched by defense beyond the line of scrimmage making it a live ball.
    4. Recovered by kicking team.

    Jerry has absolutely nothing to worry about other teams trying it on purpose and honestly it distracted from the total no show the Cowboys put up that game.

  16. Fixing the rule is simple – the kicking team still has to make a first down if they recover the ball.

  17. How can Jerry sit there and say “I’d never seen it applied when it applied to us” when it’s the same rule Leon Lett made famous on Thanksgiving years ago? Only difference this time is that the player who touched it beyond the line did so accidentally since he couldn’t really avoid the ball, whereas Lett went and tried to recover intentionally. Pay attention to your own history, Jerry

  18. I’m not understanding how it’s an odd rule: the Cowboys intentionally touched the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. I agree with Jones if it’s the scenario he describes, or if it’s an unintentional touch such as hitting a guy in the back, although that would be open to interpretation. But on this one, he intentionally touched it when the correct thing was to get as far away as possible. Nahshon Wright, even was quoted after the game saying he shouldn’t have touched the ball. If the league really thinks this is a loophole that must be closed, maybe change it so a blocked punt must travel 10+ yards beyond the line of scrimmage, like an onside kick, before the kicking team can recover after the receiving team touches it.

  19. Its pretty simple Jerrah: your team muffed the recovery.

    Contacting (partially or fully blocking) does not invalidate the punt. The ball traveled beyond the line of scrimmage making it a valid punt and the ball is live if the recovery is muffed. This was not an “odd’ rule. It was an unusual circumstance of a muffed punt recovery which is a common rule and play in football.

    possession rules on special teams plays are VERY different from passing playe: thst is why they are “Special.”

  20. Harbaugh wouldn’t even complain about this rule. But Jerry will try to have it changed in the off-season.

  21. Cowboys muffed the blocked punt. They’re the team that rightfully got penalized for the bad play – don’t muff the loose ball. Also, know the rules of the sport you’re being paid millions to play.

  22. That’s one play, they got crushed. Cowboys culture is they plan Super Bowl parades after they win 2 games!, this team hasn’t won anything since ’96 because of the Jones Entitlement Syndromw

  23. Jerry should have remembered Leon Lett. He touched the ball after it had crossed the line of scrimmage … Happy Thanksgiving!

  24. What else can be expected from Jerruh? Always needing to be heard and the center of attention for his grossly overrated franchise. Still making excuses for a loss almost a week ago. Meanwhile in Denver, nobody from the Broncos camp has mentioned the Cowboys this week, all of the focus is on the Eagles. Since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl, the Broncos have: won 3 Super Bowls, won the AFC 4x, the AFC West 8x, and have gone 7-0 against “America’s Team.” Look ahead Jerry, it may help your ‘Boys.

  25. The rule makes sense. What do you propose to change the rule into. When the punt is blocked whose ball is it? Is it always the receiving team’s ball no matter what? Is it a fumble so whoever recovers it gets the ball? The rule is clear. If the punted ball is blocked and goes beyond the LOS, it is treated like a punt. If the receiving team touches it, it’s a free ball. Learn the rule, teach the rule and there won’t be a problem.

  26. The “bad play” was the Cowboys player not knowing the rule and touching the ball making it a fumble the Broncos recovered. Fire the Special Teams Coach.

  27. Didn’t the Cowboys benefit from a double-punt in a game this season?…or was it another team?

  28. Jerrah gonna fix one non problem and create a whole load more. Ball past line of scrimmage touched by receiving team is live. It’s simple. Add more complexity, create more problems. As the NFL usual does.

  29. The Broncos did not get rewarded for a bad play. In fact, the consequence was if the Cowboys had played it right, then the Cowboys would have had a short field. The Cowboys also made a bad play and their consequence was a loss of possession.

    Another thing to remember for those saying the Broncos should have to get to the first down marker. Once the ball made it back to the line of scrimmage it can no longer be advanced by the kicking team unless the ball is first possessed by the receiving team. Hitting the Cowboy’s player does not count as possessing the ball. On this play, the ball was never possessed by the Cowboys therefore the Broncos could not advance the ball past the first down marker.

  30. —“It’s a very odd rule because it rewards the team that makes the bad play,”
    Wait a minute, Dallas also made a bad play by touching the ball without possessing it. Had Dallas actually either not touched it, or recovered it as part of the touch, Dallas would have would have had the ball.
    It’s a good and typical rule, the most recent bad play had it go against their way. Consistent with 2 players pushing each other and the 2nd one gets caught/penalized.

  31. How does he not get it? The ball PASSED the line of scrimmage and then was touch by a Cowboy then recovered by a Bronco! Live ball at that point..

  32. Jerry should know better. This is exactly the same thing as the Leon Lett Thanksgiving blocked FG muff.

  33. The “bad play” was from the Cowboy’s defensive player touching the ball after it crossed the LoS. This ain’t hard.

  34. itsamadmadmadmadworld says:
    November 11, 2021 at 9:01 am
    Didn’t the Cowboys benefit from a double-punt in a game this season?…or was it another team?
    Nope, that was Seattle that got the double punt.

  35. It’s a long-standing and well-known rule that once the receiving team touches the ball beyond the LOS, it’s a live ball. Stupid of Jerry to be complaining about that. But it does seem fair that if the kicking team recovers the ball short of the 1st down, it should be a turnover on downs.

  36. Hardly an obscure rule. Leon Lett made it famous. Lett thought he was downing the ball, pinning the Dolphins back inside the 10. Wright was trying to field it so he could return it for a touchdown but he mishandled it and Denver recovered. Wright would have been hailed a hero for turning the game around if it worked. Instead it was yet another failure by Cowboys. Jerry’s just trying to distract from a total beat down.

  37. Just a novel idea here. But, if even the guys on the competition committee don’t understand the rules that’s a sign you have too many, too many that are outdated, too many that no longer really make any sense in the modern game. And lastly how about BEFORE we start tweaking and making new rules, and rules that need a stronger hand and “emphasis” that we actually fix the ones on the books? NFL loves traditions, traditions can become antiquated not given a fresh look to make sure they still do what they once were intended to do. The amount of dust on the NFL rule book needs a spring cleaning, literally, after the season and before minicamps. IMO

  38. Knowing the rules is part of the game too. Teams are coached to get away from rolling punts, this is the same. For kicking the ball off a defensive player, it would be the same for kickoffs. I think it was a college play where the kickoff was drilled ten yards off the helmet and recovered by the kicking team. But it doesnt make sense to do tgis consistently.

  39. Speaking as Cowboys fan who has watched football for more than five decades, I have never seen a punt muffed within a yard of the line of scrimmage, so I don’t really see this as a flow that needs fixing. If the Competition Committee did want to make a change, they could require the ball to go 10 yards before it could be muffed.

  40. highwater says:
    November 11, 2021 at 1:06 pm
    It’s a long-standing and well-known rule that once the receiving team touches the ball beyond the LOS, it’s a live ball. … But it does seem fair that if the kicking team recovers the ball short of the 1st down, it should be a turnover on downs.
    I agree with the first part but not the second. Once the receiving team has muffed the the punt, the possession has changed and it is treated no different than a fumble.

  41. So wrong. When a 4th down punt is blocked it is awarded to the recovering team. Have the rules changed?

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