Joseph Randle tried to jump over the pile to score in a goal-line situation during Sunday’s blue/white scrimmage.
Or, as safety Barry Church put it, “I saw he tried to jump over, tried to pull a Walter Payton, but somebody knocked it out.”
Yes, Randle lost the ball in his attempt to emulate ‘Sweetness’ but officials ruled Randle had crossed the plane before losing control and the ball ending up in Church’s hands.
That play likely would have been reviewed in a regular-season game, and the Cowboys coaching staff want to make sure Randle is well aware of the importance of that kind of gamble.
“The ball is the No. 1 thing we can’t risk down there,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “You don’t want to take points off the board. There are certain things we don’t want to do.”
Added executive vice president Stephen Jones: “It will be a learning experience. I don’t know if he got in or didn’t get in. I heard both. They signaled a touchdown. If you are going to try to make that play, you better make it.”
Coach Jason Garrett echoed that message.
They want to score a touchdown, of course, especially on third down as it was played in that scenario. But a field goal is better than nothing in that situation too.
Randle was stuffed on second down, and Church knocked away a Tony Romo pass intended for tight end Gavin Escobar on first down.
“Ball security is critical all over the field, it’s certainly critical down there,” Garrett said. “We’re not opposed to leaping down there at the goal line. There are certain situations where we actually call that play. Sometimes it just presents itself based on how it’s blocked.
“The biggest issue is taking care of the football and not every letting the officials the opportunity to get involved. We have to do a better job securing the ball regardless of what the outcome of that play was.”
For his part, Randle seemed comfortable that he had crossed the plane before it popped loose.
“Touchdown, no doubt,” Randle said. “But the way things are you need to get in there and make sure about everything.”
If not, it could become a game-changing play for all the wrong reasons. Church predicted he would have taken it the other way for a score on the play had it been a fumble, even though Romo made a light-hearted attempt to tackle him.
“I definitely would have scooped and scored, there was no way in hell Romo was going to catch me over there,” Church said. “I saw Romo coming out of nowhere and I was going to hit him with a stiff arm but like, nah, maybe I shouldn’t stiff arm our quarterback so just out-ran him to the edge.
“If he would have caught me, I would have never heard the end of it.”