John Fassel was in a joking mood Monday afternoon.
“The thought process was I think Cowboys fans aren’t the play-it-safe type,” Fassel said in explaining the move to rush the punter on a fourth-and-20 near midfield with two minutes left in the first half. “So I was going to give them what they wanted, come after [them] on the punt rush. So I hope they’re happy with it. We came after him. Kind of the mindset going into the game, we’re going to come after this football team. But I’m still not so sure we actually roughed him.”
Fassel said it was his decision alone, with no input from head coach Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys were called for roughing the punter, which gave the Chargers an automatic first down and 15 yards. The Cowboys were bailed out eight plays later when Los Angeles missed a 44-yard field goal. But it took a possession away from the Cowboys’ offense that could have added to their 14-11 lead in the final minute of the half.
“Any time you rush the punter, there’s a risk,” Fassel said before using a blocked punt and returned touchdown last week by Pittsburgh as a defense. “So the reward is high, but the risk is high.”
Fassel said his game plan going into Week 2 was being ultra aggressive.
“Our goal was to come after him,” he said. “I think going into the game, you’ve got a game plan and you never anticipate that, eh, I didn’t want to pull the trigger because I’m worried about roughing the punter.”
Fassel insisted that Azur Kamara, who was called for the roughing penalty, was blocked into the punter and disputed that the penalty was correctly called.
“I could go to the tape and we could sit down and watch it and tell me if it’s roughing,” he said. “I’m biased. But I think the TV copy shows a pretty good picture of maybe something else. I’ll be interested to see what [the NFL officials] say. There was a lot of bodies there. Our goal is to come after it and you could absolutely second guess it and I’m OK with that.”
Fassel said McCarthy was cool with the call, with an asterisk, he added.
“I think the only way to block the punt is to rush the punt,” he said. “I think he was OK with us following the game plan and coming after him. He was probably upset that we roughed them, or that they called roughing.”