Dallas Cowboys returner Ryan Switzer had a forgettable afternoon against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
He failed to get back to the 25-yard line on the three kickoffs he returned, and fumbled a punt return that led to a Rams touchdown.
The punt return proved to be a pivotal moment in the game.
The Cowboys were leading 17-6 at the time and the defense just had a solid series in which they held the Rams to only 12 yards and forced a punt. The offense, it appeared, had a chance to make it a three-possession game early on.
Instead, less than two minutes after Switzer’s fumble, the Rams were back in the game at 17-13.
“I had a good read on the ball,” said Switzer, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina who returned seven punts for touchdowns in his college career.
“I judged it well. It was just one of those instances where as soon as I had it, I took my eyes off to kind of assess where I was and I didn’t end up possessing it cleanly.
“It’s not the first time I’ve done it and it won’t be the last. Obviously it’s a big play in the game but I thought we bounced back well.”
Switzer clarified his “it won’t be the last” quote through the Cowboys, saying he simply meant that mistakes happen to every player. He does not expect to fumble punt returns, although acknowledged that it’s part of the game.
Coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys drafted Switzer because of his returning skills and fearless approach on those plays. Garrett addressed the play after the game.
“You certainly don’t want to do that,” Garrett said. “One of his strengths as a punt returner and kickoff returner is his ability to catch the ball. He catches with great confidence and handles those situations extremely well. Obviously that was a big play.”
Switzer wasn’t the only scapegoat on the day, but he certainly had a significant blunder.
On the three kickoffs he returned, Switzer got it back to only the 20-, 19- and 21-yard line.
But the Cowboys believe Switzer will rebound from this game. After all, he made positive plays in the Week 3 win at Arizona.
“He’s just got to keep his confidence up,” tight end Jason Witten said. “He made some big plays last week. That’s a tough position to be in. It’s hard to play that spot, but he just keeps his head up. He’ll get back. He’s a young player. He’ll bounce back.”