With Pair Of Late-Game Blunders, Dez Watches Week Go From Bad To Worse In 10-6 Loss To Bucs
During a game filled to the brim with the dismal and abysmal, it was Bryant’s pair of late-game miscues that ultimately sent the Dallas Cowboys to their seventh consecutive defeat in a dreadful 10-6 loss at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay. The loss dropped Dallas to 2-7 on the season.
The Cowboys came into Sunday’s inter-conference tilt hoping to salvage a game before Tony Romo’s return next week, and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. After 55 minutes of play, they were poised to do just that. But that’s when Bryant made his presence felt in a most unwelcome manner.
Clinging to a 6-3 lead, the Cowboys faced a third-and-1 from their own 18-yard line with 4:13 remaining. Instead of trusting in the league’s best offensive line to move the pile for running back Darren McFadden, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan opted to go in the direction of his top wide receiver. A year ago, when Bryant was having an All-Pro season, that would have been the right call. But nothing in Bryant’s world is as easy as it once was. Not in the locker room, and certainly not on the field.
Bryant took exception this week to an article written by Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com, leading to a heated exchange between Bryant and the veteran columnist in the locker room on Thursday. From the locker room, Bryant’s emotions took him to Twitterverse, where he promptly berated another member of the media for what he considered to be unfair reporting.
Trading barbs with the media is, apparently, an offence that fits right in with the many other events that have made up for this 2015 season gone, oh, so wrong. So too are those memorable crunch-time blunders that make for a two-month dry spell without a victory. Just like he was on Thursday, Bryant was the focal point of the Cowboys’ undoing on Sunday.
Bryant, matched up one-on-one with reserve cornerback Sterling Moore, watched a perfect “back-shoulder” pass from Matt Cassel bounce off his mitts and fall to the turf. The end result was another Cowboys punt, and a game-changing touchdown drive from Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who marched his team 56 yards for the go-ahead score with 55 seconds still remaining for a Dallas comeback.
Once again, with his offense in a bind, Linehan called Bryant’s number, sending the Dallas wide receiver deep down the middle of the field toward the end zone. Once again, Cassel delivered a catchable pass. Once again, Bryant failed to come up with it, and instead watched Bucs defensive back Bradley McDougle make the interception in the end-zone.
Bryant said afterwards that he didn’t make a play on the ball because he was expecting McDougald to be flagged for pass-interference. When the penalty flag failed to materialize, Bryant was left looking the part of a receiver whose week had just went from bad to worse.
Which doesn’t begin to speak for the current status of this Cowboys season, which has taken on a certain destructible nature that tastes both bitter and monotonous.