Jeff Heath pulls double-duty as kicker for Dallas Cowboys

By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 23, 2017 at 12:06 AM
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath did double duty Sunday, filling in for injured kicker Dan Bailey for the final two-plus quarters of a 40-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.

Heath made two of three extra points and kicked off four times, banking in his first attempt off an upright. He became the first non-kicker or punter to make at least two PATs in a game since former Houston linebacker and current Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson went 4-for-4 in 1980.

"That was fun," Heath said. "That was the most fun I've had playing football in a really long time. We kind of prepared for something like that last year one game. I never really thought I was really going to have to do it in a game, but it was a lot of fun, man. The coaches did a really good job, just getting my mind right."

Before Sunday, the last time Heath had kicked in a game was in 2008 as a senior for Lake Orion (Michigan) High School. He made a 49-yard game-winning field goal in the playoffs that season.

Heath, who also played soccer growing up, took over the kicking duties after Bailey injured his groin. Dallas went for two points following their first touchdown after Bailey's injury. At halftime, Heath had time to work on his kicks with long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and holder Chris Jones.

"We felt more comfortable that we could try to execute those, and I think for the most part he did a really good job," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "That's not an easy thing to do. He talks a lot about this game-winning kick that he made in high school, but the footage is very gray and murky. But, apparently, he won some championship game with a 49-yarder. So we had a lot of confidence based on his past."

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Cowboys outside linebacker Sean Lee had five total tackles, including two for loss, in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Getting back to work was a relief for Lee.

"I do feel like I'm letting the team down when I've missed time," Lee said. "I've had issues with durability and I've worked hard on improving those. It's something I constantly try to work on. No question.

"I feel like I'm letting guys down. Getting all of our guys back on defense and getting guys healthy with a couple weeks of practice under their belts shows the type of defense we can be."

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The 49ers' previous five losses before getting blown out Sunday were by a combined 13 points. Two of the defeats came in overtime.

"There's no excuse for what happened today," 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "We all didn't play as we could in all three phases.

"The previous five weeks we've been so close. We're right there. We've got to come closer as a unit and just put in that extra work on the off days. Whether it's watching extra film or getting your body right or any of that. We just have to keep moving forward as a team."

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49ers rookie middle linebacker Reuben Foster returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring an ankle in the season opener, but he injured a rib in the third quarter and missed much of the second half.

"I know he wanted to go back in the game and he was cleared to go back in the game late in the fourth, but that was me," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I held him out just at the end. It was too important. I wanted to make sure we have him next week. The fact that he was good to go there, I'm assuming he'll be good to go next week, but you never know."

Foster started and had five tackles, including one for loss.

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