ARLINGTON, Texas - Once again, Dez Bryant was just inches away from scoring a touchdown in the final minute of a game in Cowboy Stadium. This time he has a bruise on the right side of his chin to show for it.
After Bryant made a mid-air adjustment over his man to grab a 44-yard pass from Tony Romo with 1:03 left in the game, he took a hit from safety Madieu Williams just as he landed on the ground and his body completed its motion. The ball popped out leaving the Cowboys down 10 points as they went on to lose 38-31.
Just like in the final seconds of a loss to the New York Giants earlier this season, it would have been an amazing catch. Bryant talked about the play after the game.
"I got hit underneath the chin," Bryant said. "I didn't see that guy coming. He made a good play. As I'm getting ready to bring the ball in, he hit me in the chin. I was hoping the ref had seen it, but he didn't. If I could have seen that guy coming I could have adjusted myself to make that play."
Despite the drop at the end of the game, Bryant had another career game to follow up his terrific performance last Sunday against the Browns. In Thursday's contest against the Redskins, Bryant caught eight passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryant was the Cowboys' answer to the explosive playmaking of Robert Griffin III. Bryant was the primary catalyst to Dallas' near comeback after being down 28-3 at halftime. The Cowboys' first touchdown was an 85-yard play by Bryant to ignite Cowboy Stadium.
Later in the fourth quarter, Bryant scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass to bring the Cowboys to within seven points.
Thursday's performance made for back-to-back 145-yard games by Bryant who has thrived since his legal issues were officially put to rest just over one week ago. The game also marked the fourth outing this season that Bryant has totaled over 100 yards receiving.
But as is sometimes the case for Bryant, he had to make up for a mistake made earlier in the game. Early in the second quarter he shook away from cornerback Josh Wilson to make a short catch only to then turn into Wilson who forced a fumble, which was recovered by Washington. The Redskins scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 14-3.
Bryant explained his thought process on the play.
"As I was bringing it in I was expecting the contact," Bryant said. "It just came out. He got his hand in and it popped out. It didn't bring me down, but he just got lucky on that play."
Whether or not Wilson was simply "lucky" on the play, it was true that it didn't seem to bring Bryant down, as he went on to have to have one of his best performances of the year and was one of the only sources of offense for the Cowboys at times in the game.
The Cowboys have clearly found out how to utilize Bryant's playmaking skills in recent weeks. He is having a career year as Thursday's game put him over 850 yards receiving on the season to go along with six touchdowns. At 5-6, if the Cowboys hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, they will need to continue to get monster games from Bryant moving forward.