The entire game against the Houston Texans was one of mixed results for almost everyone on the Cowboys. The defense had several great stops, with J.J. Wilcox, Orlando Scandrick, and Tyrone Crawford among the players who stood out at various times, but the two touchdown drives by the Texans were almost too easy, and the way the defense let down at the very end of regulation showed just how important Rolando McClain is to the team. He was on the sidelines with a flareup of his groin problem, which just sounds bad, and his absence could be a problem for the upcoming game against the Seahawks.
Offensively, it was the same. DeMarco Murray was again a workhorse, getting 136 yards on 31 carries, and he had to fight for almost every yard as the Texans did an excellent job of limiting him to shorter gains most of the game. But he had another fumble in the first quarter. Tony Romo made crucial throws and pulled a classic Romodini move to elude J.J. Watt on his touchdown pass to Terrance Williams. He also had an interception in the red zone that kept the Cowboys from extending the lead and possibly avoiding the eventual overtime. Jason Witten become the third tight end to exceed 10,000 yards receiving, but that is a career milestone, not really a game ball worthy event in itself.
Even the incredibly reliable Dan Bailey missed the field goal that would have won the game in regulation before he came back with the game winner in the OT. Ice water flows through his veins, but he still missed an opportunity.
All right, now that I have given the obligatory praise to some of the runner-ups and all, I can drop the pretense. You knew all along who was getting this one. His stat line was impressive enough: 9 receptions, 85 yards and a touchdown, but he really won this with the leaping jump-ball catch to set up the winning field goal. Dez Bryant, throw up the X and come on down to get your game ball!
It was both a crucial play in the game and an amazing display of athletic ability. The Cowboys had stopped the Texans on the initial possession of the overtime, but it was a close thing. Arian Foster was starting to run wild with Rolando McClain out. Dallas had the ball at their own 32, facing a third and ten after Murray had been stuffed twice. Romo surveyed the field, saw Bryant covered one-on-one by Jonathan Joseph, and put his faith in Bryant to come up with the ball. He, and the rest of the team, have seen repeatedly how good Bryant is going for the jump ball. They have seen how hard he works on his skills, putting in extra time after practice, literally hounding people, including the head coach, to throw him a few more balls. They have witnessed the passion, the desire he has for the game.
For Romo, it was probably an easy decision to make. He delivered the ball on target and Bryant went up and got it. A couple of running plays, Dan Bailey trots out, and ball game. Bryant did have a drop early on but made no major mistakes, and although the Texans were trying to limit his opportunities, he still was the favorite and most successful target for the Cowboys.
And on one play, he was absolutely superb.