The Cowboys’ videoboard is the biggest in the NFL, the cherry on top of a $1.3 billion stadium. But on Saturday night the giant video screen nearly cost the team dearly in a preseason game.
The videoboard is so large that it hangs not too far above the field’s surface, close enough that big-legged kickers can actually hit it with punts.
That’s exactly what happened in the team’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cowboys punter Chris Jones nailed the videoboard with a punt, forcing referees to blow the play dead and declare a re-kick. So Jones lined up to punt again, avoiding the videoboard on his second attempt but hitting it directly to Bengals returner Brandon Tate.
For the Dallas Cowboys, if something can go wrong it will, and this case was no different. One play after hitting the Cowboys’ videoboard, the team watched as Tate took the re-kick back 75 yards for a touchdown.
”Darrin always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,” Tate said of special teams coach Darrin Simmons. ”Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
Fortunately for the Cowboys, a strong performance from quarterback Tony Romo allowed them to overcome the videoboard mishap and beat the Bengals 24-18. Romo threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns in one half of action, getting the team to the endzone for the first time in the preseason.
“I thought it was important more than anything just to score points and put us in a position to have a good feeling as we finished the preseason with the starters,” said Romo, conducting his postgame news conference by speakerphone after initially leaving without talking to reporters. ”It was something we needed to do to cap the preseason because we hadn’t gotten in the end zone yet.”
The team has only one more preseason game left, but the might need to practice kicking the ball away from the videoboard before the regular season starts.
Video of Chris Jones nailing the Cowboys’ videoboard with a punt can be seen here.