DETROIT -- After Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's two sideline meltdowns in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, the two players most associated with the No. 88 jersey, Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson, understood the frustration but each said Bryant needs to control his emotions.
"There's no question you got to channel it differently especially in that part of the football game when everybody is scrambling around trying to figure things out and do what's best to win the football game," said Pearson, a former Cowboys receiver who wore the number from 1973-to-1983. "At that point, whether its frustration or begging for the football, which we've all done in critical situations in games on the sidelines. It just wasn't the right time."
Bryant's sideline rant came after tight end Jason Witten had a similar incident that wasn't picked up by the television cameras. Bryant slammed his helmet down after getting off the field on a third down, yelled at receivers coach Derek Dooley and pushed through Witten and Jason Garrett to yell at Tony Romo.
"I had talked with Dez weeks ago and he's in a place where he understands that there are people, who want him to win games," said Hall of Fame receiver Irvin, who wore the number from 1988 to 1999. "He wants to make plays and I understand the passion, but for years, for years, this is exactly what we complained about. No one on the Cowboys seemed to have any passion. Does he need to go about it a little bit better? Me personally, I've never gone after or will go after my quarterback in any way. When I'm talking to the quarterback I want him to hear exactly what I'm saying because it's vital for me to get involved. There is never anytime I will condone going after the head coach or the quarterback."
After the game, Bryant hugged Witten in the locker room and everybody involved said there were no problems. Bryant said he wouldn't offer any apologies for what occurred on the sideline saying he was passionate about the game.
With about 12 seconds to play in the game, Witten and Bryant exchanged words along the sideline which prompted injured defensive end DeMarcus Ware to grab the receiver in an attempt to cool things over.
Witten said Bryant is like his little brother and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he had no problems with the sideline issues.
"I don't know if he pushed Dooley away, but he put his hands on him," Pearson said. "You don't show anybody up. It was perceived he was showing up Romo and Garrett at that time. You can't do it at the wrong time. That's why we're talking about that now instead of losing a tough football game as opposed to a defense that gave up 623 yards and 24 points in the fourth quarter. If we're talking about that and not what really cost us to lose that football game, to me it appears to be a distraction and that's what Michael is talking about you got to challenge it at the right time."
Pearson and Irvin said Bryant needs more touches in the offense and felt that he was justified in someways for complaining given how Detroit's Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards and was targeted 16 times. Cowboys rookie receiver Terrance Williams, who finished with just two catches for 64 yards, was targeted 10 times.
"This other guy got 16 targets and [Bryant] got six, [Williams] had 10 targets. [Bryant] got six," Irvin said. "You're telling me about double-teams and they're throwing him the ball double, triple whatever. I understand it. The passion. You can't let it get away from understanding the reasons and all of that while you're playing the game."