SAN FRANCISCO -Maybe after Sunday everyone will stop being surprised by Jesse Holley.
The Cowboys' second-year wide receiver certainly caught the 49ers off guard in overtime on Sunday, producing a 77-yard catch and run on the Cowboys' first offensive snap of the extra period. The long gain set up Dan Bailey's 19-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 27-24 win.
Holley, who came to the team as the winner of Michael Irvin's *4th and Long *reality show in 2009, has made a habit of taking advantage of every opportunity given, and Sunday was no different.
"Two-and-a-half, three years ago, working security in Durham, N.C., part-time selling cell phones," Holley said, recalling the strange odyssey that brought him to this point. "Fast forward to today. I make the game-winning play in an NFL game for the Dallas Cowboys.
"You just pray and hope for an opportunity, and Coach Garrett said it in a meeting last night, California is the land of opportunity."
Holley's latest big chance came when the Cowboys deactivated Dez Bryant, who had a thigh injury, and Miles Austin suffered an aggravation of his hamstring injury in the fourth quarter. Other than spot snaps to spell the starters, he was rarely in the game offensively until late.
To start the Cowboys' final drive, which tied the game, he caught two passes for 19 yards, his first and second pro catch.
"I was really impressed with him today," Garrett said. "He's always been a guy that's contributed for us on special teams . . . A lot of guys got opportunities today. They stepped up and swung the bat, and really did a nice job of taking advantage of it."
Each of the Cowboys' wide receivers fall into that category. With Bryant out, Austin produced three touchdowns. And in Bryant's place, Kevin Ogletree's first career start produced 50 receiving yards, a personal best.
But None did so more than Holley, who was overcome by emotions following his big catch and run, set up by play action.
"I went to my coaches and I told them I'm ready," Holley said. "I told Coach Garrett that. I told (Rececivers) coach (Jimmy) Robinson that. And I'm just glad that they believed in me to make a play. I thank God. I just thank everybody who's been with me up to this point."
Holley may have more believers the next time he steps on the field.