IRVING, Texas – This week couldn't have ended any better for Dez Bryant.
The wide receiver recorded a career-high 145 receiving yards and a touchdown on a game-high 12 catches Sunday against the Browns, just days after his legal charges were conditionally dismissed.
Bryant said he was excited he could focus all of his attention on football with the charges behind him.
"Mentally, I just felt like I was ready to go," Bryant said. "This is how it's going to be."
Browns cornerbacks continually held and grabbed onto Bryant, who burned the Cleveland secondary throughout the second half. He totaled just three catches for 25 yards in the first half, before snagging nine catches for 120 yards the rest of the way.
His performance wasn't littered with the same mental mistakes that held him back throughout his career. Bryant finished without any blatant errors, besides tiptoeing out of bounds a yard short of a first down on a second-and-16 pass in the second quarter.
"I didn't mean to do that," Bryant said. "It's not like me to run out of bounds. I saw like four or five guys coming, so I took a step out. I didn't see the first down marker, so that's my bad."
It'd be difficult to find another lapse in judgment all day from Bryant, who caught 12 of his 15 targets and emerged as Romo's go-to guy in almost every situation. His maturity as a receiver was evident, as was his maturity following the game.
Owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo all complimented Bryant for his strong performance. But the receiver said he can't pay attention to his individual successes when the team sits at 5-5.
"I feel like no matter how much anybody praises me, it's not going to change my mindset," Bryant said. "It's not going to ease me or whatever. I'm focused on this game. I hear it, take it in, don't let it get to me, and just focus on the game. I like what I've got going on right now."
Bryant's yardage total would have been greater had opposing defensive backs not interfered with him. He also could have cruised down the sideline for another touchdown had he not been ruled down with forward progress after breaking away from a medley of tacklers.
He still recorded 56 yards receiving in the third quarter and 43 yards receiving in the fourth, including a 28-yard touchdown pass behind cornerback Sheldon Brown to give the Cowboys their first lead of the game.
Romo said he threw underneath routes to Bryant against Brown earlier in the game and during that drive, which allowed Bryant to get open in a crucial spot on a stutter move.
"He didn't go by him like he did a couple of the other plays," Romo said. "The way that (Brown) plays it is he likes to keep his back inside to the quarterback, so he doesn't get the chance to see the ball a lot. When he does that, you can throw the ball where Dez can just kind of inside catch it, if that makes sense, instead of trying to lead it high and around to the outside."
Unlike early in the season, postgame questions centered on Bryant's accomplishments, rather than his near accomplishments. It was about what happened, rather than what could have been.
Bryant said he felt like he got a lot behind him earlier this week when his legal situation became clearer. After his second straight game with at least 80 yards and a touchdown, things finally seem to be going his way.
"It's just me being on top of myself," Bryant said. "Coach stays on me all the time, and I love it. I don't get down. I take it all in and I really take it to heart. I just want to do everything right that they tell me."