Dallas Cowboys

Matt Cassel has solid night, but a pick-six hurt his cause

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) leaps over a crowd to pull in an 18-yard pass that Matt Cassel threw up for grabs.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) leaps over a crowd to pull in an 18-yard pass that Matt Cassel threw up for grabs. Star-Telegram

Matt Cassel insists Dez Bryant was his intended target.

“I was exactly throwing it to Dez,” the Cowboys quarterback said to laughter. “There’s no doubt about that. That’s where I wanted to throw it.”

In the fourth quarter, Cassel spun out of a sack, ran to his left and tossed the ball to the back of the end zone, where Bryant, Terrance Williams and Lucky Whitehead all were situated. So were Philadelphia defenders E.J. Biggers, Chris Maragos and Nolan Carroll.

But Bryant outjumped everybody for an 18-yard touchdown that tied the game at 21-21 with 10:52 left.

“I don’t even know what happened on that play,” Cassel said. “I’m still dizzy.

“It was third down, and I got outside the pocket. I felt guys coming, and I thought I would spin. Then, I saw a few of our guys running. I threw it up and thought I would give them a chance. That’s what Dez does best is make those kinds of plays.”

 That was the highlight for Cassel, who went 25 of 38 for 299 yards with three touchdowns, an interception and a 105 passer rating. It was his best outing in three starts in Dallas.

However, a pick-six the series before his touchdown pass to Bryant marred the effort.

Rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks, whose hit on Tony Romo in Week 2 fractured the quarterback’s left collarbone, intercepted a Cassel pass intended for Darren McFadden. The former University of Texas standout returned it 67 yards for a touchdown to give Philadelphia a 21-14 lead with 12:47 left.

“They were playing two-high defense,” Cassel said. “We had a combination route. I don’t think I threw it behind him or anything. He just made a good play on the ball. He cut it, and unfortunately, it turned out to be a pick-six. Sometimes those plays happen. They have good players on defense. I was happy at how we responded, though. That’s the biggest thing: When you play this game, it’s about how you respond, and I think everybody kind of rallied. We went back and said we had to score, and that’s what we did.”

The Cowboys have not won with a quarterback other than Romo since the meaningless season finale in 2010 against Philadelphia with Stephen McGee at the helm. They are 6-15 without Romo since he became the starter in 2006.

Brandon Weeden was 0-3 in three starts this season before being benched in favor of Cassel. Cassel fell to 0-3.

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