MIAMI– On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dez Bryant lined up across from a linebacker and a safety and knew exactly what was going to happen.
"Before he even called the play, it was like 'Touchdown,'" Bryant said. "I'm thinking in my head '99.9 percent, this ball is probably coming here.'"
Sure enough, Bryant streaked across the field and beat both defenders comfortably. Given time to find him, Tony Romo lofted a 16-yard strike for a score – about as easy a touchdown as you'll see at the professional level.
"I knew if I gave Tony a good view, he was going to put it there," Bryant said.
The touchdown broke a 14-14 deadlock, and it wound up providing the game-winning points and helping snap a seven-game losing streak. It also etched the duo into Cowboys lore, as they connected on their 50th touchdown pass – the most in franchise history.
Fifty career connections is one more than the 49 shared between Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, and it came much faster. It only took Romo and Bryant 68 games to reach that point, while it took their predecessors 128.
As meaningful as the accomplishment might be, Bryant had his mind on loftier goals when he was asked about it.
"That is pretty cool – but you know what they've got. They've got three of them," he said. "That's the goal, man. I'm not trying to think too far ahead, but that's the goal. You've just got to take it game-by-game and stay focused the way that we are and hope for the best."
Sunday's win improved the Cowboys to 3-7, but that's still a long way away from the Super Bowl contention Bryant dreams about. Downing the Dolphins is a step in the right direction, but Bryant was blunt about the size of the challenge that still awaits.
As a nod to that fact, Bryant wholeheartedly rejected the thought of glancing at the NFC East's unimpressive standings – which look surprisingly manageable, given losses by Philadelphia and Washington this weekend.
Bryant didn't want to hear that, though.
"I can't, we can't. It's a distraction – that's a real distraction," he said. "We've just got to stay sticking together, and each and every game – win, lose or draw – we've got to feel good about ourselves when a game is over and hold our heads high after we went out there and gave it our all. I think that's what we're going to continue to keep doing."
There won't be a lot of time to worry about distractions this week anyway. Dallas will practice on Monday with an eye on Thursday's Thanksgiving game against Carolina. Bryant's only focus in the meantime will be rehabbing the myriad of nagging injuries he's been battling – foot, ankle and knee.
"I'm not going to lie, at the beginning of the week, I was like 'Man, we're going to see how this thing feels, see how it rolls,'" he said.
However much he might be hurting, though, Bryant said he found the perfect cure-all when he saw Romo practicing with the Cowboys' first-team offense last week. With all that was at stake, sitting out was not an option.
"Just seeing him out there, I was like 'I've got to get right. I've just got to get right,'" he said. "Every game matters, and you've just got to go out and put it on the line."
It's safe to say Dallas did that, while Romo and his top target re-announced themselves as one of the NFL's most potent duos. It wasn't Romo's best afternoon, and Bryant only nabbed four catches for 45 yards, but it was enough to give him 400 career receptions – making him just the sixth player in franchise history to reach that mark.
It was certainly a starting point.
Bryant was one of the last players out of the visitors' locker room, leaving him outnumbered by oncoming media members. Pressed for comment on stats and milestones, Bryant once again brushed it aside, preferring to keep the focus on the future.
"I will celebrate that after the season. I'm all in on where the season can go from here," he said. "I'm locked in, and I'm trying my best to stay that way and I'm trying my best to keep my team focused and also for them to stay that way. It's not over for us."