Dallas Cowboys

Forgettable night for Cowboys’ special teams

Cowboys punter Chris Jones put himself in harm’s way, needing to make a touchdown-saving tackle on 49ers punt returner Jarryd Hayne.
Cowboys punter Chris Jones put himself in harm’s way, needing to make a touchdown-saving tackle on 49ers punt returner Jarryd Hayne. AP

The most accurate kicker in NFL history missed a 43-yard field goal. A missed blocking assignment led to a punt blocked and opposing touchdown.

Those were the two most botched special teams’ plays for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

“Weren’t consistent in our execution in any of the three phases. Just really didn’t play well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “... It wasn’t a very good kicking game.”

No, it wasn’t.

Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey missed wide right on a 43-yard attempt early in the second half, a rare miss from that distance. Bailey, who became the league’s most accurate kicker last season, has made 35-of-38 field goals between 40 and 49 yards in his career.

Things only got worse from there.

Early in the fourth quarter, backup punter Tom Hornsey had his punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. Tim Scott, an undrafted rookie safety, didn’t help his chances of making the Cowboys as he did a poor job of blocking 49ers receiver Quinton Patton, who blocked the punt to himself for an easy touchdown.

The coverage and return teams didn’t fare much better.

The 49ers returned four punts for 105 yards, while the Cowboys returned four for 45. On kickoff returns, the 49ers averaged 20 yards while the Cowboys averaged 23.5.

Asked if he had any concerns about special teams, Cowboys owner/ general manager Jerry Jones said: “I am concerned about special teams, because those guys have to take what we’re missing out there tonight, and they’ve got to meld together as a unit. It’s one of the real challenges that you have and at the same time put the 53 together that we want to.”

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