Dallas Cowboys

Lucky Whitehead has long punt return but later loses fumble

Lucky Whitehead can’t escape Corey Graham on a 28-yard punt return Sunday.
Lucky Whitehead can’t escape Corey Graham on a 28-yard punt return Sunday. AP

Lucky Whitehead thought he had his first NFL touchdown in the second quarter as he broke contain down the sideline on a punt return. But Bills defensive back Corey Graham had the angle and pushed Whitehead out of bounds at the Buffalo 44.

It ended up being a 28-yard gain, Whitehead’s longest punt return of the season, and the Cowboys converted with a field goal.

“That return was supposed to go the other way,” Whitehead said. “It just wasn’t there. Their whole team was on the other side. So I just tried to make something happen.”

Whitehead has gained confidence as the season has worn on, and the Cowboys have gained confidence in him after losing Lance Dunbar for the season in Week 4.

Whitehead upped his punt return average to 6.1 after Sunday, and he averages 29.4 yards per kickoff return.

“I’m more comfortable with the game plan and watching more film,” Whitehead said. “I can see the punts or whatever. I kind of know where I need to be and what’s kind of happening. So it’s kind of slowed down for me as time came on.”

But it wasn’t the best of days for Whitehead as he lost his first fumble of the season. Whitehead had trouble with his ball security during training camp and the preseason, but he had not muffed a return until Sunday.

Bills running back Boobie Dixon recovered Whitehead’s fourth-quarter fumble on a kickoff return with 2:18 remaining, and the Cowboys never saw the ball again.

“Honestly, I think I may have knocked it out,” Whitehead said. “It was just slick as I was going down, and it kind of just got away from me. My alignment was kind of bad. A short kick, and I knew they had the wind against them. I’ve just got to learn from it. I’m not a sleeves-type of guy, but it was kind of cold out here, and I tried that out. I’ve just got to learn from it.”