Move over, Bob Hayes. Dez Bryant is the new Dallas Cowboys’ franchise leader in touchdown receptions.
Bryant caught his 72nd touchdown pass against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, snapping a career-long five-game touchdown drought to finally set the record.
The record-breaking catch came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Bryant hauled in a 13-yard fade pass from Dak Prescott. Bryant went up and over Redskins defensive back Bashaud Breeland to make the play.
Bryant didn’t make himself available for comment after the game, but the front office and his teammates raved about his accomplishment afterward.
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“Dez was outstanding,” owner Jerry Jones said after the Cowboys’ 38-14 victory. “When he fell to us, we certainly thought it was an opportunity for us in the draft.
“He really was a young soul when he came out of college. Now he’s an older soul in a young man’s body. He does some really charitable things with his heart. He’s just always looking out for the other guy. With what we’re trying to do now with our offense, he’ll get better because he’s putting the work in.”
Bryant tied Hayes last month at San Francisco, although said the record had not been something he’s paid attention to this season. That is not a slight on Hayes.
In fact, Bryant recognizes what a game-changer Hayes was in forcing defenses to implement zone defenses.
“Super fast guy,” Bryant said of Hayes recently.
But, as far as chasing the record, Bryant said: “You don’t want to be thinking about that. That will take away from everything you’ve been trying to do or working on. You’ve got to let that stuff come to you.
“That’s what I’m going to do. If it comes, it comes. If it don’t, it don’t. It eventually will come.”
It finally came Thursday on a perfect night at AT&T Stadium with the roof and doors open. Bryant broke a record that has stood for 43 years in an organization that has had plenty of elite receivers come through the years.
None, though, had the knack of finding the end zone like Bryant has shown in his eight-year career.
Earlier this season, Bryant referred to himself as a “scoring machine” in his ability to high-point the ball better than anyone in the end zone.
“It’s one of my biggest traits,” Bryant said. “I love it. High-pointing the ball, that’s one of the big things about my game. That’s what I do.”
Said tight end Jason Witten: “I don’t know if there’s anybody in the history of the league who can high point the football like he does. He works at it every day. I’m really proud of him to see him grow and grind it out.
“I know this year hasn’t been perfect for any of us but for him staying poised and staying with it. It was a big-time touchdown.”
Even more impressive may be Bryant sticking with the Cowboys to achieve such a feat. This is a guy who had off-field concerns coming out of Oklahoma State in 2010, but the Cowboys saw enough talent to roll the dice on him with the 24th overall pick.
That gamble has paid off, as Bryant has had the longevity to become the organization’s leader in TD receptions.
“I’ve never had a problem proving people wrong,” Bryant said. “I’ve been doing that my whole entire life. I’m ‘Mr. Prove Anybody Wrong.’ That’s my nickname.”
His teammates certainly appreciate what Bryant has done throughout his career and the record is just further proof of just how dominant Bryant has been.
Bryant appears headed toward a third straight season failing to reach the 1,000-yard mark, but was among the top receivers in the game not too long ago. He had three straight seasons of at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns from 2012-14.
But Bryant isn’t going to get complacent with just setting the record. He wants to end his career with much more than 72.
So do his teammates.
“A lot more touchdowns to come for him,” Witten said.