Before reporters could ask a question following Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.
“Y’all don’t ask about my dad’s situation,” the veteran said. “Keep it on football.”
Bryant meant no harm. He just had no desire to discuss an emotionally-charged nine days for him and his family.
Bryant’s father died on Nov. 12, and the star receiver missed Saturday’s walk-through to attend the funeral in Lufkin. But he was back on the field Sunday and came through with six catches for 80 yards and a pair of clutch touchdowns against the Ravens.
It was Bryant’s first two-touchdown performance since the final game of the 2014 season — when he had four receptions for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Redskins.
“I’m just glad that when he had to deal with such a personal tragedy that he had the team and his play to go to,” owner Jerry Jones said. “We never pick a time to lose our moms and dads. Dez will be the first to tell you, I’m sure, that having this team around him was a welcome situation.”
The day after Bryant’s father died, he caught six passes for a season-high 116 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 35-30 win at Pittsburgh. Sunday’s performance came against the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
“He was a little more composed this game, and he was just happy and having fun,” running back Alfred Morris said. “Last week, he was tearing up because [his father’s death] was still fresh, so it was tough for him.
“I’m glad he’s able to look up to his father and do these things like, ‘Dad, I know I’m going to make you proud even though you’re not here.’ So it was awesome.”
Bryant praised his teammates for rallying as the Cowboys scored all 27 points on their final five possessions. Bryant credits the team’s composure to “the faith we have in one another, and we keep God first. That has a lot to do with it.”
Bryant added: “Like I said, we’re for one another. We don’t focus on the outside stuff. We just stay together, play together and try to stick together as much as we possibly can.”
Bryant’s performances since his father’s death have come against two of the most physical defenses in the NFL.
“He went through a lot this week with his dad and getting away from it,” tight end Jason Witten said. “But it shows his maturity and where he is to be able to come back and be able to eliminate all the noise and the things he was able to overcome this week and come out and play a really good football game.”
Bryant’s 4-yard reception put the Cowboys ahead 17-10 midway through the third quarter, and his 13-yard score gave Dallas a 24-10 lead early in the fourth.
“It was him just going out there and just doing what he loves to do and putting it out there for his father,” Morris said. “I saw him pointing to the sky several times.”