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Dez Bryant makes impact on punt return

This isn't about Dez Bryant disappearing again in the second half of games -- he had one catch for 16 yards vs. Miami on Thanksgiving Day -- it's about making the best of the opportunities when they arise.

With the game hanging in the balance late in the fourth quarter Thursday, Bryant was the last man onto the field for a punt return. It was the first time Bryant had touched the field on special teams all day. He was so late that when the ball was in the air, he was still snapping his chin strap. (It's uncertain if putting Bryant in to return was a last-second move.)

Bryant's 20-yard return with about three minutes left gave the Cowboys their best field position of the second half, at their own 36.

It led to a game-winning 28-yard field goal by Dan Bailey as time expired.

The Cowboys are averaging just 8.3 yards per punt return, which is 25th in the league.

But Thursday afternoon, Bryant showed what he could do. The Cowboys should use Bryant more on returns, and that was the goal at the start of the season until a thigh injury in Week 1 put an end to this job full-time.

As the season gets tighter, the Cowboys should return Bryant to this role. Miles Austin is expected to return next week at Arizona, and the emergence of Laurent Robinson takes some pressure off Bryant in the passing game.

The more opportunities you give Bryant to touch the ball the better, whether it's in the passing or return game.

"We're looking for spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "You know we like to have different guys available. We used Felix [Jones] as our kick returner. Those guys are playmaking-type guys, they certainly have a significant role on our offense. But when you get the ball in their hands, that's a good thing, and I thought Dez did a really nice job handling that."