- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys didn't target Dez Bryant often in the season opener. But Bryant produced when the ball came his way, catching four passes for 85 yards while being targeted five times.
The first of our weekly throw-by-throw breakdowns of Bryant's performances:
Incomplete: Lined up wide left in an empty-backfield set on second-and-10 from the Giants’ 46, Bryant runs an intermediate out route. Tony Romo, who avoided a sack by spinning away from a linebacker who blitzed from the slot, made an ill-advised pass that should have been intercepted by cornerback Corey Webster, who was playing the short zone in Cover 2 after jamming Bryant at the line of scrimmage. The ball should have gone to slot receiver Cole Beasley on a hot route, but the rookie had a mental bust and didn’t adjust his route, running a short out that essentially allowed Webster to cover two receivers while playing zone.
18-yard gain: Lined up split left in a two-receiver set on first-and-10 from the Cowboys’ 20, Bryant runs an intermediate crossing route. He gets great separation from Webster, who is playing man coverage, and catches the ball in stride at the 35. Middle linebacker Chase Blackburn sprints back to make the tackle and prevent Bryant from making a game-breaking run after the catch.
13-yard gain: Lined up split left in a three-receiver set on first-and-15 from the Cowboys’ 22, Bryant runs an out route against Webster, who is playing Cover 3. Romo’s throw is high, but Bryant makes a clean leaping catch and does a good job of clearly getting both feet in bounds.
38-yard gain: Lined up split right in a three-receiver set on third-and-1 from the Cowboys’ 47, Bryant runs a stutter-go. He gets a step on Webster, who was playing press coverage, and catches the ball at the 28. Safety Kenny Phillips, who was helping Webster over the top, makes a touchdown-saving tackle at the 15.
16-yard gain: Lined up wide right with Miles Austin in the slot of a three-receiver set on second-and-10 from the Cowboys’ 44, Bryant runs a slant against man coverage. He sells an outside release to Webster and displays great acceleration on his break to get wide open. Bryant gained eight yards after the catch before safety Antrell Rolle made a diving stop.