ARLINGTON, Texas – The Washington Redskins poked and prodded all week, but the Cowboys wouldn't take the bait.
As Jason Garrett repeated several times on Wednesday, his team doesn't typically bother with bulletin board material, preferring to focus on themselves.
But after Dez Bryant's contentious evening with Josh Norman, there wasn't going to be any holding back – both players saw to that personally.
"First off, Washington needs to get their money back from Josh Norman," Bryant said immediately after the game, echoing Norman's famous phrase from last year.
It honestly seemed like this rivalry had died down from last year, when Norman erased a hobbled Bryant in Carolina's 33-14 whipping of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Both players were cordial and respectful before and after their Week 2 meeting, when Bryant caught seven passes for 102 yards in a 27-23 win.
Something changed in this back-and-forth shootout, though. Norman's played Bryant physically – to extremes at times. He also made a pregame comment that he wanted to throw up the 'X' – Bryant's famous touchdown celebration – after an interception.
Whether it was something specific or a combination of things, the All-Pro receiver took exception – and he made his displeasure well known.
[embeddedad0]"He just be talking, man. It's stupid. It's really stupid," Bryant said. "He's just not about that life – he's not. He's not about that life – not at all. It's to the point where I might just leave him alone, but after this week I've got to put the film out – how I done him. Then after that I'll leave him alone."
The ill feelings came to a head immediately after the game, when the two players got into a brief dustup when the final whistle sealed the Cowboys' 31-26 win. Bryant wasn't willing to divulge the details of the argument – but even his non-comment packed a punch.
"I don't even want to talk about it, man," he said. "That guy is soft, man. He is really soft."
Speaking of punches, though, it's somewhat remarkable that such a contentious game, and the argument that followed, didn't result in any extracurricular activity. Bryant was asked about how he might have handled the situation as a younger player, showcasing a sign of how he's matured during the course of his NFL career.
"I would have beat him up right on the field – straight up," he said.
For his part, Norman didn't back down from the challenge in the visiting locker room. The All-Pro corner signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins in the spring. And while Bryant finished the night with five catches for 75 yards, Norman pointed out that only about 30 of those yards came against him.
"I played him three or four times now. And those times I don't think he broke 30 yards. Or had any significance on any kind of game. Definitely didn't have a touchdown," Norman said. "So, out of those three games, you would think a guy of that magnitude, of that kind of big standards, would do more than that."
Not to be deterred, Bryant took to Twitter to state his case of the game:
Whether Bryant follows through on that promise remains to be seen. But even if he doesn't, Bryant was confident the tape of the game would showcase the type of victory he put together Thursday night.
"Yes, I am being extremely disrespectful to him, because he disrespected me first, talking about how he's going to throw up the X," he said. "Ok, go look at that film."
Regardless, the feud is out there for the world to see. It required a Thanksgiving Day stage, and a decades-old rivalry, but the bulletin board material flew forth. Only time will tell when Bryant and Norman get reacquainted – will it be next season, or in the playoffs?
Whenever it happens, it will be required viewing. And in the meantime, the Cowboys came out with a win – which Bryant was more than happy to point out.
"But on another note, we got after that ass," he said. "Hell of a win. It feels good."