|Wes Welker grew up loving the Cowboys and praying Leon Lett didn’t touch the ball||10.14.11 at 2:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Wes Welker grew up in Oklahoma City as a Cowboys fan. He was a pre-teen in the early 90s when Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith were tearing up the NFL.
He was also big Leon Lett fan, as long as he wasn’t trying to carry the ball or pick it up.
Asked Friday during his weekly gab with reporters in front of his locker stall about if he was ever concerned about the “blue jerseys” jinx of the Cowboys, Welker said he never worried about his favorite team coming out in blue but rather defensive linemen trying to advance the ball.
“Not so much. I was more concerned when D-linemen were trying to handle the ball,” Welker joked about the two most infamous plays in Cowboys history, both performed by the 300-pound Pro Bowl defensive lineman.
The first instance came in Jan. 1993, in Super Bowl XXVII, when the Cowboys crushed the Bills, 52-17. Late in the fourth quarter, Lett recovered a fumble on Buffalo’s 45-yard line and ran it back towards the end zone. When he reached the 10, Lett slowed and held the ball out as he neared the goal line. Lett, though, didn’t notice Bills player Don Beebe chasing him down from behind.
Beebe knocked the ball out of Lett’s outstretched hand just before he crossed the goal line, which sent the ball through the endzone, and resulted in a touchback that cost Lett his touchdown. Lett later admitted to watching the Jumbotron, and trying to do a “Michael Irvin”, where he put the ball out across the goal line.
“Well, they still won that game,” Welker said. “That wasn’t too tough but the one where he kicked the ball in the snow, that was a little discouraging at the time.”
On Thanksgiving Day in 1993, Welker’s Cowboys weren’t as lucky.
During a rare snow and sleet storm in Dallas, the 7-3 Cowboys were leading the 8-2 Miami Dolphins, 14-13, with 15 seconds left in the game. The Dolphins tried a 41-yard field goal to take the lead but the kick was blocked. While most of his teammates began celebrating, Lett attempted to recover the ball. He slipped on the ice as he tried to pick up the football, and Miami recovered the Lett blunder on the Dallas one-yard line.
Had Lett simply done nothing, the Cowboys would have automatically received possession and could have run out the clock. By touching the ball and then failing to hold onto it, Lett enabled the Dolphins to take possession and then try another field goal with three seconds left on the clock. The second attempt was good, and the Dolphins won the game, 16–14, as time expired.
Welker and the Cowboys have since recovered.
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