ARLINGTON, Texas — One of the strangest plays you could imagine took a bad Cowboys day and made it worse.
Cowboys wide receiver Malik Turner came screaming up the middle of the field, four plays into the second half, and blocked Broncos punter Sam Martin's punt. The ball squirted forward, across the line of scrimmage, and ricocheted off Cowboys defensive back Nashon Wright. After it bounced off Wright, Broncos linebacker Jonas Griffith recovered the football. Griffith didn't reach the line to gain on fourth down, leading Cowboys fans to celebrate, as the punt block appeared to give Dallas the football deep in Broncos territory.
The Cowboys offense came on the field. The Broncos defense came on the field. Everyone in the building believed it was Dallas' ball.
But the rule book says otherwise.
Because the ball had crossed the line of scrimmage, the moment Nahshon Wright touched the football, it became like a muffed punt. So when Griffith recovered, it became a fresh Broncos possession, and first down for Denver.
Point blank, if you knew that the moment the play ended, you're a better football rules expert than just about everyone in Arlington today. A press box full of veteran reporters gaped in surprise when the officials made the announcement. The Fox television crew was befuddled. No one had a clue it was Broncos ball.
But it was. And Denver would turn it into three points, driving 72 yards in ten plays, and kicking a 27-yard field goal to extend their lead to 19-0.