ARLINGTON, Texas – Dez Bryant remembered vividly how he felt when the play call came in for a wide receiver pass, but it isn't exactly fit for print.
"I was like 'What?' – that's what I'm thinking in my head," Bryant said. "There was cuss words going everywhere."
It was the play call that transformed a competitive Monday night game into a 42-21 laugher. Leading Detroit, 28-21, facing a 1st-and-Goal at the Lions' 10-yard line, Bryant motioned left across the Cowboys' formation.
Streaking through the backfield, he caught a flipped lateral from Dak Prescott. When the Lions bit on the reverse, he tossed a smooth, slow-sailing arc to Jason Witten – all alone for an easy touchdown.
"I was really nervous," Bryant said. "Now, when we executed the play, I was like 'Yes, that's what I'm talking about.' I hit 'em with the Steph Curry – I threw the ball, I kind of looked and I turned around because I knew it was completed."
It was a play Bryant said the Cowboys have been working on for five weeks or more. And on Monday, it was the standout play of what was assuredly one of the best outings of his career.
On top of trying his hand at quarterback, Bryant had a decent night at receiver, as well. With the Lions willing to try him in one-on-one coverage, he starred to the tune of four catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's funny," Prescott said. "If they want to take that matchup – they believe in their guy, I believe in our guys. We'll see who wins."
[embeddedad0]Bryant won all over the field against an overmatched Lions secondary. The one target he didn't catch was a 36-yard penalty for defensive pass interference. The other four went for big gains – including two acrobatic touchdowns.
"Let's let 'em keeping doing it," Bryant said of single coverage. "It's a catch or a PI, one of the two."
In some cases, it's both. Long before he threw his first career touchdown, Bryant made an early contender for play of the day in the second quarter. Facing single coverage from Detroit cornerback Johnson Bademosi, Bryant drew a defensive pass interference flag in the corner of the end zone on a 25-yard pass from Prescott.
It turned out to be irrelevant, however, as Bryant reached around Bademosi, batted the ball with one hand and hauled in a contested touchdown as he fell to the floor.
"Y'all think it was a pretty cool catch? I thought it was average," he said. "I felt like I've had better."
The hits kept on coming as the Cowboys pulled away from the opposition. Bryant put an end to the day's scoring early in the fourth quarter, when he fought off another Detroit corner, Nevin Lawson, to pull down his second touchdown of the night.
Having already tied Michael Irvin's franchise touchdown mark on Dec. 1 against Minnesota, the two scores pushed Bryant alone into second place in team history. With 67 career receiving touchdowns, he needs just four more to tie Bob Hayes for most in the club's storied history.
The game also made Bryant just the fifth player in NFL history to catch two touchdowns and throw another in the same game.
But for Bryant himself, it goes back to throw – which he later described as the best touchdown experience of his life. It's long been known that the All-Pro receiver had the arm strength, and he recalled touchdown passes he threw back in high school.
But to connect with Witten for six points was on a bit of a different level.
"That was one of the best feelings, because I look up to Witt," he said. "I got to complete a pass to him. That's a Hall of Famer. I just thought that was pretty cool. That's one of those moments that's going to forever be with me."
As if the touchdown wasn't enough, Bryant even saw Witten throw up the 'X,' his signature touchdown celebration – as if a memorable night couldn't get better.
"I've told you guys before how proud I am of him and who he's become," Witten said. "He had a great night, some big catches. He and Dak are on the same page and really connecting. That was a great moment for us."