Amid concerns about Tony Romo’s back and an injury-plagued defense, wide receiver Dez Bryant is one of the few constants for the Dallas Cowboys going into this season.
And Bryant didn’t disappoint Saturday in his first game action of the 2014 season. He appeared to be in midseason form with a highlight-reel play on a 31-yard TD catch on a pass from Romo, as Bryant easily grabbed it over Ravens cornerback Dominique Franks.
That proved to be the best play of the night for the first-team offense.
“Tony made the call and he thought it was going to work,” Bryant said. “I can’t tell you the play, but he felt good with it. He wanted me to go get it, so I went and got it for him.”
Said Romo: “If he keeps that up, it’s obviously going to make us a very tough team. ... With a Dez Bryant, when he’s looking at me and the DB is not, you just want to make sure you don’t overthrow him and he’ll finish the play all the time.”
Bryant finished with three catches for 59 yards; Romo was 4 for 5 with 80 yards; and running back DeMarco Murray had eight carries for 34 yards and added 21 yards on a screen pass.
Rookie safety Ahmad Dixon received heavy praise after the preseason opener, as he led the team in tackles. The Baylor product, though, didn’t see the field Saturday after being late to Friday’s walk-through practice.
“I made a poor decision,” Dixon said. “I was late to the walk-through. I’ve learned from it. I’m accepting it. ... This is the NFL. There are no excuses.”
Dixon took full responsibility, saying it was “selfish” and “not acceptable” to show up late for the 8 a.m. workout the final day of camp in Oxnard, Calif.
Dixon had 11 tackles against the San Diego Chargers in the preseason opener, but underwent tests after the game for a concussion. He was held out of practices until Thursday.
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Dixon has played “well enough” to make the team at this point, but must continue to impress in the final two preseason games.
Linebacker Rolando McClain played in a game for the first time since 2012 and made a few notable plays in the second quarter.
He forced a fumble by Ravens running back Justin Forsett that went out of bounds and, six plays later, broke up a pass from Joe Flacco intended for tight end Dennis Pitta.
McClain, who didn’t speak with reporters as he left the locker room, was among the highlights from a better showing early by the defense.
“I liked what 55 did out there,” Jones said. “He got some good snaps, more snaps than I thought he might get and he did real well.”
Backup quarterback Brandon Weeden wasn’t as sharp as he was in the preseason opener.
Weeden made a few questionable decisions, particularly on deep passes. One of them was intercepted by Ravens cornerback Brynden Trawick.
Weeden went 10 for 19 for 129 yards and one interception. Against San Diego, Weeden was 13 of 17 for 107 yards and a TD.
“Not bad,” Weeden said of his overall performance. “I did get off to a hot start, played well last week. But there’s going to be wrinkles, playing with so many guys ... there’s a lot to work on. Some good, some bad, but something to build on.”
Three players left the game with injuries. Linebackers DeVonte Holloman (neck) and Anthony Hitchens (stinger), as well as tight end Gavin Escobar (right shoulder).