Dez Bryant called the national stir over his sideline outbursts in Detroit "a whole bunch of nonsense."
He almost had to deal with it for a second straight week. Bryant had two costly drops and committed an inexcusable penalty Sunday against the Vikings.
But he redeemed himself and changed the storyline by making a 34-yard catch on the Dallas Cowboys' final drive, the longest play of what proved to be the game-winning drive.
If not for that play, Bryant would have likely been heavily criticized for his two drops and penalty.
On the Cowboys' first offensive drive, Bryant dropped a pass on a third-and-7 that would have resulted in a first down. Tony Romo’s pass was a little behind, but Bryant got his hands on it and should have made the play.
Bryant had another drop early in the fourth quarter, and this came on an even more routine play than the first. Leading 20-17, the Cowboys were in position to make it a two-possession game.
Romo threw a strike right into the hands of Bryant on a deep crossing route that likely would have resulted in a 46-yard TD play.
“That was a touchdown,” Bryant said. “I tend to get a little excited when I see stuff like that. It was unfortunate and that would have been big-time right there.”
Said Romo: "I got on him pretty good after the last one. I think I was mic'ed up today, so I'm sure they got that one."
In between the drops, Bryant committed his inexcusable penalty late in the third quarter. After he and Romo couldn't connect on a third-and-15, Bryant thought there would be a penalty for defensive pass interference.
However, the officials called offensive pass interference and then Bryant took his helmet off, an automatic 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, which pushed the Cowboys out of field goal range.
“That’s how you lose games,” owner Jerry Jones said. “I’m not referring just to Dez, because we had several penalties out there. But that’s how you lose.”
Bryant was able to make light of the penalty afterwards because of the win. He admitted he was unaware the rule even existed. The rule, somewhat ironically, is called after Cowboys great Emmitt Smith.
The NFL implemented it in 1997 in part because Smith was known for taking off his helmet after touchdowns.
-- Drew Davison