Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Tate

Dwayne Harris's returns change game

October, 14, 2013
Dwayne HarrisRon Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty ImagesDwayne Harris pushes off of Redskins cornerback E.J. Biggers on a big return in the third quarter.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dwayne Harris could not help but think of the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason when Sav Rocca was forced to punt for a second time because of a penalty.

Against Cincinnati, the Cowboys had to re-kick after Chris Jones’ punt hit the digital board and Brandon Tate returned the subsequent punt for a touchdown.

“They definitely tired,” Harris said. “I’ve seen that happen too many times … It’s hard for those guys to run down there full speed and then you’ve got to come back and do it over again. That gives us an advantage.”

Harris took advantage of it with an 86-yard return for the Cowboys’ second touchdown of the game in their 31-16 win against the Washington Redskins Sunday. It was the fifth-longest punt return in team history and the second return for a score in his career. He had a 78-yarder against the Philadelphia Eagles for a touchdown last season.

“I didn’t do anything but run the ball,” Harris said. “They opened the lanes for me.”

He wasn’t through, adding a 90-yard kick return in the third quarter that set up Terrance Williams’ touchdown. That tied for the 10th-longest kickoff in team history and was the third 90-yard or more return that did not result in a touchdown.

“I do a lot of running on special teams so I got a little winded at the end and my legs were giving out on me a little bit,” Harris said. “I had to make that cut and make the kicker miss and that slowed me down a little bit.”

It slowed him just enough for E.J. Biggers to push him out at the Washington 15.

He finished with 222 combined return yards, which is the fourth-most in a game in team history.

“Whenever you have plays like that, returns and changes of field like that, it gives you such an advantage," tight end Jason Witten said. “It really changes the game.”

Chris Jones won't change punt mindset

August, 25, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Now that Chris Jones has hit the center-hung digital board at AT&T Stadium with a punt, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has a plan in place.

“Lowering it,” Jerry Jones joked. “Probably too high.”

The Cowboys paid the biggest price for Jones hitting the board because Brandon Tate took back the re-kick 75 yards for a touchdown. The officials needed replay to change the call on the field.

Chris Jones became the second punter to hit the board. On Aug. 21, 2009, the first game at the stadium, Tennessee’s A.J. Trapasso hit the Mitsubishi Electric sign that hung below the board. The NFL instituted a re-kick immediately, and coaches immediately feared the coverage unit would be tired from covering the first punt.

Tate was barely touched on his return.

“We didn’t get in our lanes and didn’t make the plays when we were there,” coach Jason Garrett said.

Jones said he was told after the game of his historic -- perhaps -- punt but he did not change how he approached the rest of his punts that night.

“It’s not a mindset that I have to adjust to be like, ‘OK, I’ve got to kick a liner. I’ve got to kick it lower or not as hard or any of that stuff,’” Jones said. “I just go and try and hit the same ball every time. I got every piece of that ball and it ended up hitting the scoreboard ... I had a good ball on the next one I think I had 4.89 or 4.9 hang time, which is pretty good.”

There have been 284 regular-season punts at AT&T Stadium without a punt hitting the digital board.

Chris Jones hits digital board with punt

August, 24, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Chris Jones became the first Cowboys punter to hit the center-hung scoreboard at AT&T Stadium with a first-quarter boot against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.

Tennessee’s A.J. Trapasso hit the board in the first football game played at the stadium on Aug. 21, 2009.

The officials did not notice the punt hit the board and needed video replay to force the Cowboys to punt again. The NFL instituted a re-kick rule after Trapasso’s punt, but it had never come into play before Saturday’s game. Trapasso’s punt hit a Mitsbushi Electric sign that was under the board. The sign was moved to the top of the board and has since been removed altogether.

On the re-kick, Cincinnati wide receiver Brandon Tate scored on a 75-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead.

There was a fear among coaches that a re-kick would tire out the coverage units. Tate was hardly touched on the return, with tight end James Hanna missing him in the open field before Tate ran away from Jones.