ARLINGTON, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys don’t have much room for Dwayne Harris at wide receiver. As a result, he might be about to need to make room on his mantle for yet another NFC Special-Teams Player of the Week Award.
“The blockers opened up holes anybody could run through,” said Harris, who returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 90 yards to set up another in Dallas’ 31-16 victory over Washington on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. “I don’t do nothing but run the ball.”
Actually, Harris is a receiver by trade. But budding superstar Dez Bryant gets top billing there. Third-round rookie Terrence Williams scored and is emerging. Veteran Miles Austin was back in the mix after missing two games due to injury. And diminutive slot specialist Cole Beasley was actually Dallas’ leading gainer with 44 yards on four catches.
So Harris continues to make his mark on special teams, his trademark dreadlocks flopping behind him as he sits among the league leaders in covering and returning kicks.
With this effort, Harris becomes just the third player in NFL history to have 85-plus-yard punt and kick returns in the same game. His total of 222 return yards – more than Dallas’ entire offense – is the fourth-most in a game in franchise history.
“I embrace this role,” said Harris said, who won Special-Team Player of the Week 1 in a win over the Giants and will surely be a finalist again now. “Whatever I can do to help this team win, if it’s going out and making tackles on a kickoff or punt or returning the ball on a kickoff or a punt, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Harris benefitted from a wise move by head coach Jason Garrett, who accepted a penalty on Washington in the second quarter that required the visitors to re-punt the ball. The decision forced the Redskins’ cover team to sprint upfield a second time, and Harris looked like he had the freshest legs on the field as he gave Dallas a 14-3 lead.
“Yeah, they were definitely tired,” Harris said. “That gave us the advantage.”
Harris’ other big play came early in the third quarter, his 90-yard return setting up Williams’ TD catch.
All of this works as a ceremonial gift, too, to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who celebrated his 71st birthday at the nationally televised prime-time game.
“If you just look up, he’s just making plays for us and has made them all year,” Jones said. “Those plays he made are critical. If you take the special-teams yardage that he was almost single-handedly responsible for out of that thing … boy, we’ll take it.”
And Dwayne Harris might just be taking another Special-Teams Player of the Week Award.