Some Cowboys fans Believe That Dez’s Catch Would Have Given Dallas a Win at Green Bay. They are wrong
By George Kurtz
Dez Bryant did indeed catch the ball after all. This really won’t come as a surprise to most observers of the NFL. He made the catch during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game, took anywhere from 1.5 to two steps depending upon who you ask, and then lost the ball when he reached for the goal line. Yes, the dreaded instance where “he did not survive the ground”. The NFL has now changed the rule, which means Dez’s controversial non-reception and a slew of other passes ruled incomplete back then were actually receptions.
As far as his legacy as a Cowboy, would it really have changed much had he made the catch and it was ruled a touchdown? Would the Cowboys’ playoff destiny been greatly altered? I don’t believe so. Many people seem to still think that was a last-minute or last-second play. That’s simply not true. There was still 4:06 remaining in the fourth quarter after that play. If Dallas had scored, they would’ve been up 27-26 pending the extra point. I’ll assume they would’ve gone for two to force Green Bay to score a touchdown to win the game or a field goal to possibly send it to overtime. I’m not sure it mattered either way, though.
Four minutes is an eternity for Aaron Rodgers, especially at Lambeau Field. If you’re thinking the Cowboys were having a strong defensive day, what game were you watching? Rodgers finished the game 24-35 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Davante Adams had seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Randall Cobb had eight receptions for 116 yards. Eddie Lacy wasn’t having any problems in the running game either, as he rushed the ball 19 times for 101 yards.
Explain to me how the Cowboys were going to stop Rodgers and the Packers’ offense from scoring at home with four minutes left? I’m not buying it no matter what you say. In the two games the Packers have played the Cowboys since that one, they have won both on last-minute drives, and those two games were in Dallas. I don’t see how it would’ve turned out any different that day in Green Bay. Sure, you would’ve liked to see what would’ve actually happened. Maybe Rodgers turned the ball over. Maybe there was a fumbled snap. Maybe a big sack would’ve forced the Packers to punt and hope they were able to get the ball back. This all seems like wishful thinking. The best-case scenario might’ve been that Rodgers scored too quick and gave the ball back to Dallas with somewhere around two minutes remaining.
Let’s say Dallas did get the ball back, down four with two minutes or so remaining. That wasn’t a game in which Tony Romo was lighting up the Packers’ secondary. Dallas was using the ground game to control the clock and keep their defense off the field as much as possible. Romo only attempted 19 passes in that game. It was the DeMarco Murray show, as he rushed for 123 yards on 25 carries. Even with that game plan the time of possession was still just about even (30:39-29:21). The Dallas defense wasn’t slowing the Green Bay offense one little bit. With Dallas likely having to use all of their timeouts to get the ball back with that much time remaining, Murray would not have been a factor running the ball at that point in the game.
@DezBryant just think about it. The next time the #Packers and #Cowboys meet in the playoffs, you could be on the right side of the heartbreak #ThrowUpTheX #MaybeDezCaughtIt? pic.twitter.com/CWmP2eG2Ll
— PackPerfect (@PackPerfect_GB) April 17, 2018
That’s not to say that Romo couldn’t win the game. He was one of the best when it came to the two-minute drill and winning games at the final gun, but as anyone can tell you, he was also prone to the big mistake. It would once again seem like wishful thinking that Romo pulled out a victory there. The Cowboys’ leading receiver in that game wasn’t Dez, he only had three receptions for 38 yards, it was Jason Witten (6-71). Dallas was keeping everything short until they took that deep shot for Dez.
I’m a Cowboys fan, but I’m also realistic. I have a hard time believing Dallas would’ve won that game even if the Dez play was ruled a catch. We’ve seen the movie before and it always ends the same, with Rodgers making the game-winning play.
So many Cowboy fans like to think that if it was ruled a catch for Bryant, the Cowboys would have went on to play in Super Bowl XLIX. I say the odds were highly against that happening, and it’s mostly a long-shot Fantasy scenario. All the Cowboys would have been guaranteed is four more minutes in which they had to try and stop Green Bay yet again. And there is no guarantee they would have won in Seattle the following week. Yes, they beat the Seahawks in Seattle during the regular season, but that would be incredibly difficult to do twice. Beating them twice in one season in one of the toughest road venues in the league would be unlikely. If the game was close, it would have came down to mistakes, and those likely would have been on the Dallas side. Dez’s catch would not have likely made the difference in a Super Bowl trip as some may like to think. It was far from that simple.
As for Dez, he will be most remembered for that play. He was once one of the best receivers in the game, but a slew of leg injuries has robbed him of his speed. He just can’t separate from a defender anymore. That’s not to say he still can’t be useful to a football team, but not as a WR1. He can still out-jump defenders and can be a major red zone threat. He just can’t be relied upon to run the crispest of routes and he will drop more than his share of passes. Still, if a team can pair him with a true number one WR opposite him, they will have a passing offense that should be tough to deal with.
Where will Dez end up? He has made no bones about wanting to stay in the NFC East and try to stick it to Jerry Jones and the Cowboys, but that may not be realistic. The Eagles just won the Super Bowl and aren’t going to upset team chemistry by bringing in a personality like Dez Bryant. Washington would seem to be able to use him but don’t seem to have any interest. Dez wants to play for the Giants but can you see Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez on the same team? Good luck there. The Ravens have shown the most interest and certainly have a need but Dez may not feel that the Baltimore offense suits his needs the best. Not to mention the Ravens signed WR Willie Snead to an offer sheet Friday, which could mean they are out of the free agent WR business this offseason. Dez may have to wait until after the NFL Draft to see what team wasn’t able to select the WR they were looking for.