It’s the Dez Bryant dilemma.
The Cowboys can’t trust him. He makes too many killer mistakes, like running a sloppy route that results in an interception or losing a fumble on a reckless punt return.
But the Cowboys can’t ignore his talent. He has such potential to make plays, like catching a couple of deep balls that counted and one that didn’t but would have capped a crazy comeback against the Giants. He’s one of few receivers in the NFL with the ability to make that amazing catch in the end zone, although it was overturned on review because his fingertips touched the end line.
Does the awesome outweigh the awful? The talent outweigh the trouble? The potential outweigh the problems?
The weekly Dez throw-by-throw:
5-yard gain: Lines up wide left on first-and-10 from the Dallas 12 and runs a quick hook. Cornerback Corey Webster, who didn’t jam Bryant, made the tackle immediately, tossing Bryant out of bounds and shoving him in an apparent attempt to get under the skin of the emotional receiver. Bryant responded with a shove before an official got between them.
Interception: Lines up split left on first-and-10 from the Dallas 45 and runs what was supposed to be an intermediate crossing route. Bryant, who got past Webster’s jam with ease, rounded off the route instead of making the sharp cut that Tony Romo expected, ending up 20 yards downfield on a designed 15-yard route. That allowed safety Stevie Brown to break in front of Bryant to pick off the pass. “It was no miscommunication,” Bryant said. “It was more that as I tried to flatten my route out, I was kinda off-balance at the same time. The guy came down and made a great play.”
Incompletion: Lines up wide right on third-and-6 from the Dallas 46 and starts to run a shallow crossing route before seeing that the shotgun snap sailed over Romo’s head. Bryant turns upfield and runs up the right hashmarks for a few yards as Romo rolled right, then floated back to the middle of the field. Romo’s throw across his body came up short. Bryant could have helped out his quarterback by breaking toward the sideline to give him a much easier target.
55-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-1 from the Dallas 21 and runs a go route, getting wide open because of a coverage bust, as Webster appeared to be the only player in the Giants secondary not playing Cover 3. Webster thought it was Cover 2, allowing Bryant to run free, expecting a safety to be playing the deep half. A severely underthrown pass by Romo allowed Brown to come from the middle of the field to make a touchdown-saving tackle.
Incompletion: Lines up wide left on third-and-19 from the New York 33 and runs a corner route against good coverage from Webster. It appeared that Romo expected Bryant to run a 19-yard out route. Romo’s pass landed several yards away from Bryant.
30-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-2 from the Dallas 42 and runs a go route, beating Webster’s press man coverage. Bryant falls as he makes the catch with Webster trailing close behind.
Incompletion: Lines up wide left on second-and-4 from the Dallas 28 and runs a comeback route against physical, press man coverage by Webster. Bryant, who was hand fighting with Webster, drops a ball thrown high and outside, away from the defender. He tried to cradle the ball instead of snatching it with his hands.
4-yard gain: Lines up wide left on third-and-4 from the Dallas 28 and runs the same route as the previous snap against press coverage by Webster. Bryant goes to the ground to catch a low throw by Romo and move the chains.
Incompletion: Lines up wide left on first-and-10 from the New York 45 and runs a go route against man free coverage, with Webster playing press and Rolle in center field. Romo throws the ball in the window between the two defenders, but Bryant fails to make a leaping catch on the sideline for what would have been a 25-yard gain. He’s hit by Rolle a moment after the ball bounces off his hands. It would have been a difficult catch, but it’s one Bryant is capable of making.
16-yard gain: Lines up wide left on second-and-10 from the Dallas 43 and runs an intermediate out against soft zone coverage in the final minute. Gets both feet in bounds as he catches the ball before Webster pushes him out.
Incompletion: Lines up wide left on second-and-6 from the New York 37 and runs a vertical route, getting open in the end zone despite the Giants playing prevent defense. Bryant got Webster to hesitate with a double move, with the corner nibbling on the out fake, and safety Brown was a little late to help. Bryant make an amazing, leaping grab over both defenders for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, landing hard on his hip. However, instant replay showed that Bryant’s fingertips landed on the end line before any other part of his body hit the ground. The most impressive catch of Bryant’s career will go down in history as simply a spectacular incompletion.