Special teams making a difference

IRVING, Texas -- Raise your hand if you’ve heard Jason Garrett talk about the "three phases of football." If you don’t, then you haven’t really followed the Dallas Cowboys much.

Garrett is almost sure to reference the offense, defense and kicking game on a weekly basis when talking about his team.

Late in the first quarter of Thursday’s win against the Chicago Bears, Bruce Carter deflected a Patrick O'Donnell punt. After the 21-yard kick, the Cowboys started their third possession of the game at their 49. Twelve plays later they had their first touchdown of the game.

“It was a swing play early in the game,” Garrett said.

In the fourth quarter, Barry Church blocked a Jay Feely point-after attempt. It was the first blocked PAT by the Cowboys since Greg Ellis had one against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 19, 2004.

Dwayne Harris had a 47-yard punt return for a touchdown called back because of a Micah Pellerin block above the waist in the third quarter, but it was another sign that Harris is returning to his dangerous form.

The other hiccup came when tight end Gavin Escobar failed to hold on to an onside kick attempt that allowed the Bears a chance to close the gap to 38-28 with 6:09 to play. Dez Bryant recovered the ensuing onside kick.

Carter’s deflection and Church’s block “are two big plays,” Garrett said. “They balance out not getting that on onside kick.”