ARLINGTON, Texas – AT&T Stadium was rocking. In the home locker room there was a sense of relief and pride after a heart-pounding fourth-quarter comeback and winning touchdown drive with seven seconds remaining.
Once the euphoria of Sunday night's 27-26 thriller against the New York Giants wears off, the Cowboys (1-0) must figure out how to replace Dez Bryant.
The All-Pro receiver will need surgery for a broken bone in his foot that apparently occurred in the second half, and the initial timetable for his return is four to six weeks, head coach Jason Garrett said.
Bryant limped to the locker room early in the fourth quarter and remained there for the rest of the game. It was the second time he left the field Sunday – he exited for a series in the first half due to dehydration.
"That's a tough loss. You can't replace Dez Bryant," quarterback Tony Romo said. "I hurt for him right now because I know how much he loves to play this game. We'll have to reassess that and figure out where to put guys and try and help."
Bryant had five catches for 48 yards, four of which came in the first half. It was his first game action of any kind since the Cowboys' Divisional Round playoff loss at Green Bay in January. He was held out of all four preseason games due to a hamstring strain that sidelined him for a good portion of training camp.
Second-year wideout Devin Street replaced Bryant in the lineup on the second series of the fourth quarter, and on his first play an incomplete pass to him bounced into the arms of cornerback Trumaine McBride, who returned it 19 yards to the 1-yard line. The Giants scored on the next play to take a commanding 23-13 lead with 8:01 left.
The Cowboys found a way to rally, though. Romo drove the offense 76 yards in six plays and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten. Then, after the defense held the Giants to a field goal, the offense got the ball back with no timeouts and 1:34 left.
With no Bryant on the field, Romo completed 5 of 6 passes, including the winning 11-yard touchdown strike to Witten in the final seconds after deftly handling a low snap.
As his teammates returned to the locker room after the improbable victory, Bryant was seen in the tunnel on one foot shouting and high-fiving them in celebration.
Terrance Williams (five catches, 60 yards) will slide into the No. 1 receiver role for the next few weeks. Street and Cole Beasley will also have to take on larger responsibility while Bryant is sidelined.
"No one's going to be Dez Bryant, but the guys can do what they do well and it's my job to help that whole situation," Romo said.
Said Beasley (four catches, 49 yards): "We have confidence in our guys. We have a lot of weapons, so you know, whoever's in there we plan on scoring no matter what. That's the way you have to think as an offense or else you're not going to be very successful. That's a guy we don't want to lose, but when someone goes down we have to keep on moving and keep on fighting."