The Big Mac Blog

Dez Bryant’s biggest contribution came not on the stat sheet

In the Cowboys’ win against the Detroit Lions, Dez Bryant had one of the worst days of the season.
In the Cowboys’ win against the Detroit Lions, Dez Bryant had one of the worst days of the season. Star-Telegram

The below Vine pretty much says everything you need to know about Dez Bryant’s afternoon.

The Detroit Lions were not screwing around, and certainly not afraid of Dez, a newly minted NFL All-Pro wide receiver.

The Cowboys won a playoff game despite receiving the second-worst day of Dez Bryant’s season. His three catches against the Lions were one more than the two he had when Brandon Weeden was the starting quarterback against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 2.

Of Bryant’s three catches against the Lions only one did any damage. Of course, the one big catch Dez did make was a killer. Facing a third-and-10 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter at the 50, Dez caught a crossing pattern and turned it into a 43-yard play. The Cowboys scored a touchdown on that drive to make the score 20-14.

Dez’s biggest impact was not his own statistics but the room he made for others, and the attention the Lions gave him every time the Cowboys came out of the huddle.

The Lions were not going to let Dez Bryant beat them. As the above Vine indicates, they successfully jammed him at the line, and consistently shifted another defensive back his way to make sure if Tony Romo was throwing at his favorite target the risk was much greater. Romo elected to find other people, namely Terrance Williams who caught three passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

“We tell each other (the receiving core) all the time that this offense doesn’t move without us. Whether that’s making a block or making a play – we put that on our shoulders,” Bryant said after the game.

Dez has repeatedly shown he can win one-on-two matchups, and “go get it” when needed. He didn’t need to against the Lions on Sunday because Romo never asked him to do just that. He never threw a jump ball for Dez. Romo targeted Dez three times on Sunday.

Some of this lack of production was as a result of a quality Lions’ defense, and a version of Romo that is not going to take a chance any more unless he must. He did not want to, or have to, force anything against the Lions in order to win.

When the Cowboys play the Green Back Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field in the NFC Divisional Round, expect the Packers to try the same thing against Dez.

Just don’t expect Dez to be this quiet for a second consecutive Sunday.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof