Cowboys rookie Lamb takes heat for kick return TD: ‘It was too open’
The Cowboys hadn't given a touchdown trigger since 2008. So it's strange to think that rookie CeeDee Lamb will be yelled at by his coaches and teammates for finally bringing a 49ers home to the house in the dwindling moments of Sunday's meeting.
But that's exactly what happened. After one of the most electrifying games of the disappointing 2020 season in Dallas, the promising young rookie apologized.
“To be honest, it all happened so quickly. It was only a split second decision, "Lamb told reporters in a post-game interview.
San Francisco had just scored a field goal to be within seven points of the Cowboys. With 40 seconds on the clock, the 49ers have the best chance of a miracle to get an onside kick. Oddly enough, Dallas was known to be against Atlanta in Week 2.
The last game ended with a climax for the Cowboys. This did it too.
The danger, of course, is that Lamb's decision to return the awkwardly bouncing ball exposed him and the team to multiple risks. Lamb could have fumbled and given San Francisco the ball in time for another offensive series. Worse still, a 49ers Specialist Teamer could have picked up Lamb's Muff and turned him the other way for a playful touchdown.
These were the scenarios the rookie's teammates reminded him of after his return - luckily for him - ended in the end zone.
“You know, I heard from the defense attorneys later because I knew I should have taken a knee. But it was too open, you know what I'm saying "
He laughed when he said it. But it was just funny because nothing bad happened. And just because the cowboys won.
Even head coach Mike McCarthy giggled as he remembered the first-round game from Oklahoma. He was nine meters away when Lamb took the kick, and was still better positioned to attack Lamb than any member of the 49ers reporting team.
"I'm telling you, I was right there. It's almost like you can't blame him," McCarthy said in his virtual press conference after the win. "When he caught it on the high jump, you could see that he would go under. But he just saw this huge hole in front of him, so it was more of a natural reaction. "
Expect Lamb to get a quick briefing this week on when it is best to just drop on the ball.
This would have allowed the Dallas offensive line to perform a single Landry Shift and Andy Dalton would have performed a quick knee down to run out of time. Instead, the cowboys had to throw the ball back to San Francisco. Backup passerby C.J. Beathard was able to abandon three more games, the last being a 49-yard hail Mary that landed in the end zone in the hands of Kendrick Bourne.
Thankfully, Lamb's touchdown had made the final result in San Francisco irrelevant. But it was a little more exciting when McCarthy wanted to see it after a highly competitive game.
“These are great corrections to make in your team meetings on Wednesdays when things like this happen. I saw clearly what he saw. But yeah, you want to put the game down, that's for sure. "
Yes, in this particular situation, McCarthy would have preferred his talented rookie to purposely extend the no-kick-return Cowboys row to 205 for a touchdown.
Good, bad and ugly: Tony Pollard, defensive shine for Cowboys in 41-33 win
Instant analysis: match balls, key stats, quick settings from cowboys 41-33 win over 49ers
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