Dez Bryant has lobbied Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan forever. Seven years in his coaches’ ears.
“Extremely long time,” Bryant said of his campaign to throw a pass. “A long, long, long time.”
Garrett and Linehan have seen him throw. Practice after practice, the Cowboys’ receiver throws, as well as catches, the football.
But the last time the team practiced the trick play with Bryant playing the part of quarterback, the pass fell incomplete. Bryant was certain the play had fallen out of the playbook, too.
But from the Detroit 10-yard line, Cowboys coaches finally called the trick play they have practiced the past few weeks.
“We didn’t know he was going to call that play,” Bryant said. “So unexpected. We didn’t know. He called it, and I was like, ‘Oh, [expletive].’
“... I was really nervous.”
Bryant took the pitch from Dak Prescott and appeared to be headed for an end-around run. But Bryant quickly pulled up and tossed the ball to tight end Jason Witten for the touchdown.
Witten celebrated by throwing up Bryant’s signature ‘X’ before Bryant joined him with one of his own.
“He told me he was going to do it,” Bryant said. “That was one of the best feelings, because I look up to Wit. It’s just crazy. I got to complete a pass to him. That’s a Hall of Famer. I just thought it was pretty cool. That’s one of those moments that’s going to forever be with me.”
It was Bryant’s first pass attempt since high school, when he completed a pass against Conroe Oak Ridge while playing with Lufkin. It gave him a 147.9 passer rating for the game, just behind Prescott’s 148.3. Witten was the team’s last non-quarterback to complete a pass, throwing a 42-yarder to Terrell Owens in a Week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008.
“We’ve seen Dez be a move-around quarterback out here for the defense,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “Dez can really throw the ball. That surprised me when I saw him coming around. I had to do a double-take first of all that it was him, 88, and second when he raised up, I thought, ‘This could happen.’ He can throw that ball.”
Bryant also caught touchdown passes of 19 and 25 yards from Prescott. New England receiver David Patten had a touchdown rush, two touchdown catches and a touchdown pass to Troy Brown against the Colts in 2001.
“It was pretty cool,” Bryant said. “To have two touchdown catches and throw one, yeah, that’s cool.”
Bryant’s first touchdown tied the game 21-21. Despite cornerback Johnson Bademosi interfering with him, Bryant pulled the ball in with one hand, bobbled it and secured it with his other hand for a 25-yard touchdown.
Bryant passed Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for the second-most touchdown receptions (66) in team history. He trails only Hall of Famer Bob Hayes, who had 71 career touchdowns.
But Bryant wasn’t done. He caught a 19-yarder to end the Cowboys’ scoring, giving them a 42-21 victory.
“They both were cool,” Bryant said.