Blocked Punts Returned for Touchdowns

Danny McCray blocked a Donnie Jones punt in the third quarter in the Cowboys' 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2015.

Danny McCray blocked a Donnie Jones punt in the third quarter in the Cowboys’ 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2015. Kyle Wilbur returned the ball for a touchdown.

A huge play in the Dallas Cowboys’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday was Danny McCray’s blocked punt, which Kyle Wilbur returned for a touchdown.

I have heard a number of different estimates about the last time the Cowboys returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, but most of the estimates I heard were wrong.

According to the data on Pro-Football-Reference, the last time the Cowboys returned any type of blocked kick for a touchdown was 2007, when Pat Watkins returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.

We have to look back to 1992 for the last time the Cowboys scored on a blocked punt. In week 2 of that season, Robert Williams scored after the Cowboys blocked a Sean Landeta punt.

That was actually Williams’s second career touchdown from a blocked punt. One year earlier, he scored after Dallas had blocked a Greg Montgomery punt against the Houston Oilers.

Here is a list of all five times the Cowboys have scored on blocked punts.

1977: Charlie Waters scored after a blocked punt in a 16-10 win over the Eagles.

1985: Jesse Penn returned a blocked punt 46 yards for a touchdown in a 50-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

1991: Robert Williams returned a blocked punt 18 yards for a touchdown in a 26-23 loss to the Houston Oilers.

1992: Robert Williams recovered a blocked punt and scored in a 34-28 win over the New York Giants.

2015: Kyle Wilbur returned a blocked punt 26 yards for a score in a 20-10 win over the Eagles.

Dallas 20, Philadelphia 10: Big Win, Big Cost

The Cowboys’ defense had completely shut down the Philadelphia offense for the entire first half of the week 2 matchup. DeMarco Murray had negative rushing yards for much of the game, and Sam Bradford looked completely lost.

Sean Lee was the real hero of Sunday's 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sean Lee was the real hero of Sunday’s 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dallas had a lead, but it was only 6-0. Nevertheless, three minutes into the second half, Danny McCray broke through to block an Eagle punt, and Kyle Wilbur returned the blocked punt for a touchdown. It marked the first time since 1992 that the Cowboys had returned a blocked punt for a score, and the play gave Dallas a 13-0 lead.

Another three-and-out by the Eagles led to another punt. With 11 minutes left in the third quarter, Romo hit Lance Dunbar on a 39-yard pass down the right sidelines, giving the Cowboys a first down at the Philadelphia 32.

It turned out to be the last pass Romo will throw for several weeks. Two plays later, Romo landed hard on his left side and broke his clavicle. He also fumbled on the play, giving the Eagles life.

The Eagles drove to the Dallas 3, but the real hero of the game for the Cowboys came up huge. Sean Lee picked off Sam Bradford in the end zone.

Philadelphia later kicked a field goal to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 13-3, and Dallas fans had to hope that Weeden had enough to run time off the clock.

Weeden did lead a drive.  On the 11th play of that drive, however, Gavin Escobar fumbled the ball, and Malcolm Jenkins returned the ball 34 yards into Dallas territory.

Fortunately, Bradford remained lost. He mishandled a snap from center on the next play, giving the ball back to Dallas with 7:15 remaining in the game.

Less than three minutes later, J.J. Wilcox snagged a deflected pass and recorded another interception of Bradford with 4:40 left.

Weeden hit Terrence Williams on a 42-yard touchdown pass to pad the lead, as the Cowboys won, 20-10.


One week ago, I wrote that last week’s game against the New York Giants was somewhat similar to the team’s season-opening loss to the Washington Redskins in 2010. The difference was that the Cowboys beat the Giants, unlike the result in 2010.

Today brought another bad reminder from 2010.

In week 6 that season, Tony Romo went to the turf with a broken clavicle and was out for the season. After losing to the Giants, the Cowboys were 1-5 and finished the season with a 6-10 record.

In the third quarter of today’s game at Philadelphia, Romo went hard to the turf and broke the same left clavicle. Nobody is sure right now how long he will be out, but it could be as many as 12 weeks.

In games started by the likes of Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee, Kyle Orton, and Brandon Weeden since 2008, the Cowboys have gone 6-9. Weeden’s career record as a starter is 5-16.

Weeden will now take over as the starter of a team that has gone 2-0 for the first time since 2008.

Lee came up huge in the win. He recorded 14 total tackles, including two for losses.

His play was a big reason why DeMarco Murray had only 2 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Lee’s interception in the end zone was nearly as big as McCray’s blocked punt. Had the Eagles scored on the drive, it would have been a one-possession game with Weeden leading the Cowboys.

After two games in 2014, Murray had 285 rushing yards on 51 carries for a 5.6 per-carry average.

After two games in 2015, Murray has 11 yards on 21 carries. At this rate, it would take Murray 335 games to reach his total of 1,845 yards from last year.

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