Michael Irvin couldn't be prouder if Jesse Holley was his own son. Holley won a tryout with the Cowboys off Irvin's reality show, 4th and Long, three years ago. Holley made the practice squad his first year, earned a shot on the active roster during the 2010 season and became a hero Sunday with a 77-yard catch-and-run in overtime against the 49ers.
"I feel like a father who played his first game the other day," Irvin said Thursday. "What a blessing that was just to see Jesse after how hard he's worked these last few years to get that opportunity, how he stayed in. We talked time and time again about just you've got to be ready. If you get any opportunity, you've got to make the most of it. ...I said to Jesse, 'You've got to make the most of any opportunity, because you may only get one. You've got to make it stick.' Certainly, he did that the other day."
But Irvin said Holley should have scored. Holley, who had played on special teams the previous play, admitted he ran out of gas. It allowed safety Donte Whitner, who had bit on the play-action fake, to catch up to Holley. Whitner tackled Holley at the 1-yard line, and the Cowboys kicked the field goal on the next play.
"When he was running, he cut toward the right -- the sideline -- and I said, 'You just narrowed it. You narrowed the opportunity,'" said Irvin, who sat down with Holley on Wednesday for an interview that will appear on NFL Network during Sunday's pregame show. "Jesse had just blocked on the punt team. He had just sprinted down there. So I knew he was tired."
Irvin said he hopes Holley's performance will allow 4th and Long to get another shot. The show was on only that one season that Holley won.
"We could put the show back together," Irvin said. "People were calling it a joke. 'What is this? Michael's taking up a roster spot.' Got on Jerry [Jones]. 'What will this guy ever do for the Dallas Cowboys?' Well, he just saved the season. That's all. That was the season-saver. That's what I texted him. I said, 'Way to go, man. That's an SS.' He said, 'What's an SS?' I said, 'A season-saver.'"
-- Charean Williams