ARLINGTON, Texas -If you didn't already know coming in, then you never would have guessed that Dez Bryant was playing Sunday's game against the Saints with a fractured left index finger.
Bryant had the most dominating and productive game of his NFL career in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. And while he has been a second-half player all season, he did not waste any time putting his stamp on the game.
In the first half, Bryant already had five receptions for 145 yards. Drew Brees and the Saints were extremely efficient throughout the game, but whenever they took the lead, it was Bryant who was able to respond with big plays to bring the Cowboys back in the game.
His first touchdown was a 58-yard deep pass from Tony Romo early in the second quarter to tie the game at seven. Later in the same frame, the Cowboys took their first lead of the game with another 58-yard bomb to Bryant.
Even with Bryant's inspired play in the second quarter, the Cowboys went away from him to start the second half. Bryant did not have a single reception in the third quarter while the Cowboys watched the Saints take an eventual 14-point lead.
With less than five minutes left in the game, and the Cowboys still down 14 points, a comeback seemed unlikely. But it was two straight passes to Bryant that sparked a Dallas turnaround. To start the drive, Bryant caught a short pass to the left for an 8-yard gain. The very next play, Romo found Bryant deep down the left side of the field for a 41-yard gain. Three plays later, Dallas was in the end zone.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the one time Bryant was thrown to in overtime, the slant pass was incomplete and Dallas was forced to punt the ball away. Romo talked about that third down pass to Bryant.
"We threw a slant to Dez in OT," Romo said. "It's a guy on a guy and with the coverage they played … it was a good matchup. We like that matchup. We did it throughout the game and the other guy made a good play."
Bryant finished the game with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. His previous high in receiving yards was 145, which he had recorded twice earlier this season.
After the game, head coach Jason Garrett talked about Bryant's performance.
"Well, Dez gets a lot of attention," Garrett said. "He always does. He did a really good job in the first half when he was isolated, just cashed in on some big plays. We had the 9-route that we scored on, he caught a slant and came out of it, and he made another long touchdown. So, he made a number of big plays in the game, but he got a lot of attention throughout the ball game. There were rolling covers there and he did a really food job of fighting through some of that too, and making some plays as the game went on."
Bryant has now recorded a touchdown in seven straight games.