EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dez Bryant swears his Cowboys are too unified to feel pressure. But as evidenced in Sunday night’s 31-28 comeback win at New York, it probably helps calm the nerves to have one of the sport’s most highly-rated fourth-quarter QBs in Tony Romo running the clutch-time show.
Headlining this game, inescapably, is the fact Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. may have had the catch of the night — or heck, The Catch Of The Forever — to give his team an early lead.
But Bryant had the catch that mattered to give his team a 31-28 lead with 1:01 remaining, a lead that would hold up for Dallas’ move to 8-3.
“The one that got the win,” Dez told me in the winning locker room at MetLife Stadium.
Quarterback Tony Romo scrambled around in the backfield on second-and-2 from the Giants 13. He evaded Giants pass-rushers, benefited from stone-wall protection from Tyron Smith and company, and lobbed to Bryant, whose back-of-the-end-zone sprawling catch was upheld upon review.
“It will be, I think, the most negative thing about my ownership in my mind if Tony has a career here and we don’t win a Super Bowl,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of Romo, who threw for 275 yards on 18-of-26 passing with four TDs and deserves to be in the league MVP conversation. “To have his talent come through this organization and we not get to a Super Bowl … he’s outstanding and he’s outstanding at winning games, coming from behind. … If we don’t do that while he’s active, it will be the biggest disappointment for me.”
Giants signal-caller Eli Manning had one last chance to lead his team to victory. With 31 game-winning drives to his credit and all three timeouts, it seemed a good proposition. But Rolando McClain and the Cowboys defense prevented Rashad Jennings from getting the first down, despite being inches away after making a one-yard grab on a check down.
“You just have to keep taking it play by play,” said coach Jason Garrett, who is now an impressive 9-3 in road games within the NFC East and oversees a Dallas team that is 5-0 away this year. “That’s something we emphasize as a coaching staff maybe more than anything else. This game is about one play at a time. Focus, do your job, be physical and be relentless.”
It took awhile for Dallas to get there, Beckham’s spectacular touchdown part of New York’s 21-10 lead with three minutes remaining until halftime. But Romo led Dallas back, the first of his two TD throws to
Manning answered later by mounting a 14-play, 93-yard drive with 9:12 left that ended in a pass to reserve tight end Adrien Robinson. It looked it might be a crusher for the Cowboys.
But Romo’s teammates are well-aware of his stellar numbers in this building and agree with their owner about his talent to lead, naysaying memes aside. With two timeouts and the two-minute warning in Dallas’ asset pocket, Romo led the Cowboys offense from their own 20 on a seven-play, 80-yard drive, culminating in Bryant’s answer to Beckham.
Romo said there was a “calm” to Dallas’ late-game approach. Dez said the same.
“We don’t believe in ‘pressure,” Bryant said. “We didn’t feel like we were under pressure. We knew what we had to do coming out in the second half and whenever we get the ball we need to make something happen and we need to make it count. I think that’s what we did.”