PITTSBURGH – Dez Bryant has long been one of the most emotional members of the Cowboys' roster, but this was something else entirely.
The All-Pro receiver put together his best game of the season Sunday against the Steelers, hauling in six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. He did so despite learning just 24 hours beforehand that his father had passed away.
If Bryant's performance was impressive before, that simple revelation took it to another level.
"I thought he was remarkable," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "I don't know how you begin to understand how someone can perform at that level dealing with such an emotional thing in their life."
Bryant faced scrutiny last week when he finished with just one catch for 19 yards in the 35-10 win against Cleveland. It was no such issue this time around, as he managed to match that total on the second play from scrimmage.
It was a day of chunk yardage for Bryant – most of it coming at the expense of Pittsburgh rookie cornerback Artie Burns, as Bryant picked up gains of 16, 14 and 12. Then of course there was the highlight of the night, when Bryant bailed the Cowboys out of a 3rd-and-11 by racing past his coverage for a 50-yard touchdown catch.
"He was the guy that really stood out as much as anybody on our football team to change the game," Garrett said. "He did it again and again and again."
It helped contribute to a remarkable team win – though obviously football results can pale in comparison to personal tragedy. Bryant didn't speak to reporters after the game, but it was easy to see his emotions in the moment when Garrett awarded him with a game ball for his efforts.
"He was emotional, and as he should be," said Jason Witten. "Just like a few weeks back, those are the moments you want to bottle up. These are the moments that you want to do for him, you know? As I've said, I don't know that there's anybody in my career that I've been more proud of, to have the relationship that I've had."
Those were the type of glowing comments that came out of the Cowboys' locker room in place of quotes from Bryant himself. None of them were more insightful than those from Dak Prescott – who lost his mother to cancer just days before playing a game during his college career.
"We kind of shared this morning about the things I have been through," Prescott said. "I kind of let him know this game brings you peace and use it that way. Your father, he is watching you. He's got the best seat in the house, and I told him to go out there and honor him today, and Dez did exactly that."
With as much as has been written about this team's staggering chemistry, it was just the latest example of how the Cowboys are winning on the field by winning off the field.
"We're a family. When one of our guys is down, we're going to pick them up," said Ezekiel Elliott.
In a postgame tweet directed at rookie safety Kavon Frazier, Bryant clearly agreed with that sentiment.