The Dallas Cowboys cleared a big obstacle thanks to Ezekiel Elliott’s hurdle of a defensive back in one of the more impressive and perfectly executed decisions of Week 3.
There was also a heads-up play by Packers returner Ty Montgomery and two calls that didn’t work out so well: a special teams faux pas by the Colts that ultimately didn’t cost them anything but a delayed celebration, and a tweet from the Houston Texans that opened them up to mocking from their fans for celebrating yards over points.
Elliott, the Cowboys rookie running back, reverted to his high school state champion hurdling form when he saw Bears safety Chris Prosinski in his way in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 31-17 win that snapped an eight-game home losing streak.
Right away, Elliott figured he’d leap his would-be tackler .
“Whenever you get a DB in the open field with that much space, he’s definitely going to want to cut-tackle,” Elliott said. “I thought I might have to pull the hurdle out.”
Elliott picked up 14 yards on the play, helping him finish with 140 yards on 30 carries.
Elliott’s mother tweeted that her son’s “hurdling gene comes from mamma!”
And even though his father, Stacey, played football at Missouri, Elliott agreed that he got his athleticism from his mother, Dawn, who was a track and field star at that school.
“My mom is the best athlete in the family,” Elliott said. “She’s the reason I started to hurdle, actually. One year I quit my baseball team and so I had to run track. I was like I might as well try hurdles because my mom did it. I ended up being pretty good.”
As Prosinski can attest.
SHARP PACKERS: Green Bay receiver Davante Adams suggested it was Ty Montgomery’s Stanford smarts that helped him make a heads-up play against Detroit.
“You ain’t got to be from Stanford to do that,” said Montgomery.
Indeed, Randall Cobb is from Kentucky. And five years after Cobb pulled off the heads-up play on a kickoff, Montgomery followed suit Sunday. He wheeled around the pylon and stepped out of bounds when he saw an excellent Lions kickoff heading for the end zone.
As the ball backed back to the 3, Montgomery reached for the live ball while keeping both feet on the sideline, giving the Packers 37 extra yards.
“Ingenious,” said Mike Pereira, football rules analyst for Fox. “That makes it a kickoff out of bounds. It’s a loose ball touching a player out of bounds.”
Cobb pulled off the trick on Dec. 23, 2012, when the Titans’ kickoff stopped just inside Green Bay’s 5-yard line.
Montgomery’s awareness proved crucial. The Packers went 60 yards to score and held on for a 34-27 win.
COLTS BLUNDER : Leading 26-22 over San Diego, the Colts ran the clock down to 4 seconds. Chargers coach Mike McCoy chose not to have a punt returner, but to send 11 guys at Pat McAfee, who got off a quick pooch punt.
The clock ticked down to zero, but one of the Colts picked up the football, drawing a flag that flummoxed the team and its fans who were already celebrating the Colts’ first win.
“What they should have done is surrounded it and waited for the officials to blow the ball dead. Then, pick it up and walk off winners,” Pereira said.
Instead, the Chargers were awarded an untimed down. But their last gasp didn’t go too far, and all it ended up doing was delaying Indy’s celebration.
“You don’t touch it until they blow it dead,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in what will surely become a mantra at practice this week.
MARKETING MAHEM : The week started with a 27-0 Patriots win over Houston. The Texans and area McDonald’s restaurants have a promotion in which they give away six McNuggets with every purchase the day after a game in which the team rushes for 100 yards. And they had 109 against the Patriots, so the team reminded fans on their official Twitter account Friday morning to enjoy the free food.
That met with predictable sarcasm from fans still stinging from the shutout, with one wondering if they could also get a shake because “God knows Lamar Miller ain’t got any,” and another asking if anybody was handing out free doughnuts — “you know, for the goose egg?”
AP Sports Writers Mike Marot, Schuyler Dixon and Genaro C. Armas contributed. Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton