Cowboys’ Nahshon Wright on this week’s block recovery, ‘This time, it was behind the line’

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The Cowboys’ Week 10 game versus Atlanta was seen as a chance to make up for what went wrong the week before. But one key moment was practically an instant replay for rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright.

Last Sunday, Wright was the victim of a bad bounce and a seldom-seen rule on a blocked punt, inadvertently giving the ball back to Denver with a new set of downs. Seven days later, the Cowboys special teams unit broke through to block another punt, and the aptly-named third-round draft pick once again found himself in just the Wright place at just the Wright moment.

“Great play by D.A. [Dorance Armstrong, who made the block], and again, I was able to see it get blocked. This time, it was behind the line of scrimmage, going towards the end zone,” Wright told reporters after the decisive 43-3 win. “I just jumped on it.”

The 23-year-old out secured the ball in the end zone, giving him his first career fumble recovery and his first career touchdown all in the same moment.

“I made sure I got in the end zone,” Wright told reporters, adding that it was his first time scoring since his freshman year at Laney College, the junior community college he attended before transferring to Oregon State as a sophomore.

It seems like the simplest thing, grabbing a loose football. But funny things can happen when that oblong starts ricocheting off moving bodies and solid turf. Had the ball bounced just a little differently last week, Wright might have scored then, too.

“The ball was coming my way, and I’m at the line of scrimmage,” Wright said last Sunday after being unable to find the handle on a Week 9 punt blocked by Malik Turner. “I know shouldn’t have touched it, but I was trying to scoop and score and make a play.”

The Broncos recovered that ball, and since Wright had touched it beyond the line of scrimmage, Denver was awarded possession along with a new set of downs. And the early-third-quarter moment that might have turned the tide in the rout of Dallas merely prolonged the carnage.

“No fault at all,” Turner said then, after the 30-16 Week 9 loss. “It’s all on us, and we’ll be in that position again, and it will go our way next time.”

He had no idea the “next time” would come almost exactly 168 hours later- and to the same teammate- as the Falcons attempted to stop the bleeding by flipping the field, down 28-3 as the first half was set to expire.

Armstong, in his first start for the injured Randy Gregory, burst through the Atlanta line and got to punter Dustin Colquitt’s foot almost before the football did.

“That was my first one ever,” Armstrong said of the block, “so I was pretty excited, pretty surprised. But it felt good.”

Not as good as it felt for Wright as he saw a chance to atone for his previous muff, simply by doing what he’s been doing in practice.

“Just making sure I know exactly what I need to do,” Wright explained. “Coach Bones [special team coordinator John Fassel], he encouraged me to continue to try to make plays so that way, something like this today, I’m not afraid to go and try to make a play. It was great to be out there and make that play today.”

Wright’s recovery and score capped a huge day for the Cowboys secondary. Three different defensive backs intercepted a throw, and the group logged 10 passes defensed while holding Atlanta to just 131 air yards and keeping them out of the end zone as the Cowboys completed a blowout win of their own.

“We talk about our group; we want to be a special group, on special teams or whenever we’re out there on the field. The DB’s are going to go out and represent what we stand for. I was happy for [Wright],” cornerback Jourdan Lewis said. “He stayed in the moment, he made the play. He wasn’t worried about last week. He was just worried about making the play.”

For Wright, though, that one play wasn’t just another rep.

“That might be up there. It felt good to get in the end zone.”

It had to feel even better since he had to wait a week to get there.

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