Cowboys’ win overshadows Dez’s inconsistent play

Posted Sunday, Nov. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Dez Bryant tends to find the spotlight, whether he wants it or not.

He found himself in it for the wrong reasons last week in Detroit after two animated outbursts on the sideline with Tony Romo and Jason Witten. Another week of negative attention seemed headed toward Bryant, who had a forgettable opening 58 minutes Sunday with two crucial drops and a costly penalty.

But Bryant redeemed himself on the Dallas Cowboys’ final drive and changed the storyline. He hauled in a 34-yard reception with a little more than a minute left during the game-winning drive in the Cowboys’ 27-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Before that, Bryant would have been scrutinized heavily for his two drops and inexcusable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty earlier in the game.

“I’m never down whenever I drop a pass or anything,” Bryant said. “I’m just ready to come back and make another play.”

Bryant didn’t make plays most of the game. Tony Romo targeted him more often than the previous game against the Lions, and Bryant had two early catches on the first drive.

But Bryant dropped a pass on third-and-7 that would have resulted in a first down. Romo’s pass was a little behind the receiver, but Bryant got his hands on it.

Bryant had another drop early in the fourth quarter that came on an even more routine play. Leading 20-17, the Cowboys were in position to make it a two-possession game.

Romo threw a pass right into the hands of Bryant on a deep crossing route that likely would have resulted in a 46-yard touchdown, only to see it fall incomplete.

“I got on him pretty good after that one,” Romo said.

Said Bryant: “That was a touchdown. I tend to get a little excited when I see stuff like that. It was unfortunate, and that would have been big time right there.”

It might have even made people forget about Bryant’s brief meltdown between those two drops.

With the Cowboys driving in Vikings territory late in the third quarter, Romo tried to connect with Bryant down the sideline on third-and-15. The pass fell incomplete and Bryant thought the defender would be called for pass interference.

The officials, though, called Bryant for interference, and then Bryant made an inexcusable mistake. He took his helmet off, an automatic 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty that pushed the Cowboys out of field goal range. Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys needed points on that drive and that Bryant can’t make that type of error.

Owner Jerry Jones put it more succinctly, saying: “That’s how you lose games. I’m not referring just to Dez, because we had several penalties out there. But that’s how you lose.”

Bryant was able to make light of the penalty afterward because of the win. He admitted he was unaware the rule even existed, which is named after a Cowboys great.

The NFL implemented what is known as “The Emmitt Smith Rule” in 1997 in part because Smith was known for taking off his helmet after touchdowns.

“I knew the play was over and I thought it was OK,” Bryant said. “It’s like during timeouts and all that stuff, I always take my helmet off. …I learned my lesson.”

Bryant has also learned from the endless talk his sideline outbursts in Detroit created. He knew the cameras would be on him all game and did the best he could to keep his sideline gestures to a minimum.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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