Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer 287d

Ryan Switzer's fumbled punt changed momentum of game

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Much of the focus following the Dallas Cowboys' 35-30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams is on the second-half disappearance of the offense and the dismantling of the defense, but a play in the second quarter started the change in momentum.

Ryan Switzer's fumbled punt return allowed the Rams to turn a 17-6 deficit into a 17-13 deficit with 6:33 left in the half after picking up the loose ball at the Dallas 18.

“The one gunner had passed me to the left, so I felt in a good position to catch the ball and run, but catching punts is all about the eyes and as soon as I felt like I had it, I took my eyes off it," Switzer said. "It’s just a fundamental play that I didn’t make."

The Cowboys had the game by the throat after Ezekiel Elliott's second touchdown of the game and the defense forced a punt from the Los Angeles 37. The Rams had a lot of people around Switzer as he waited for Johnny Hekker's punt, but he opted for the return instead of the fair catch.

“It was obviously a big play in the game," coach Jason Garrett said, “and you certainly don’t want to do that. 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."

Making the turnover hurt more was the fact that the Rams had not stopped the Cowboys’ offense on their first three drives. With just a fair catch, the Cowboys could have taken a more commanding lead going into halftime if they maintained their form.

The Cowboys answered the Rams’ touchdown after the turnover with a touchdown of their own, but Switzer’s miscue kept the Cowboys from creating more separation.

"I had a good read on the ball, judged it well, just one of those instances where I took my eyes off to kind of assess where I was on the field and didn’t end up possessing it cleanly," Switzer said. "It’s not the first time I’ve done it, won’t be the last."

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