Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant's 2nd-Half Disappearing Act Leads to Tough Loss

Danny WebsterAnalyst IIIDecember 23, 2012

Dez Bryant had the best game of his career on Sunday, but he could've added to that total if he was fed the ball a little bit more.
Dez Bryant had the best game of his career on Sunday, but he could've added to that total if he was fed the ball a little bit more.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys had it. Then they lost it. Then they had it again, then lost it again.

That vicious cycle continued into overtime until Garrett Hartley's game-winning 20-yard field goal in overtime gave the New Orleans Saints a 34-31 win over the Cowboys on Sunday, despite monster games from both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

It was going so well. The dangerous tandem of Romo and Bryant hooked up twice for two 58-yard touchdowns in the first half to put Dallas in front, 14-7, before Drew Brees and the Saints stormed back to take a three-point lead into halftime.

Then, something strange happened. No. 88 disappeared.

After having 145 yards and those two touchdowns in the first half, Bryant was targeted only once in the third quarter. Meanwhile, New Orleans ran roughshod on the depleted Dallas defense to jump out to a 31-17 lead.

Yet despite all of that, Romo found Miles Austin in the end zone with 15 seconds to go, sending the game to overtime. 

To recap: Romo threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns, and Bryant finished with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

There's a good chance that both guys could've finished with more yards and touchdowns to their final totals if Romo found a way to get the ball to him more often.

For the little time that the Cowboys had possession in the second half, the ball mostly traveled in the direction of Austin and Jason Witten. That's not a bad thing, but when your beast of a wide receiver dominates the way he was, why not go at him more?

All throughout the broadcast on FOX, you could hear Daryl Johnston plead from the booth to get the ball to Bryant more. Sure, he's playing with nine fingers, but he wasn't performing that way.

This is one of the more frustrating components to Romo's game. No doubt, he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and he'll give you over 4,000 yards every year. But why is it so difficult for him to keep going to the hot hand?

If the ball kept going his way, what's to say that Bryant would've finished with over 300 yards receiving? But it is what it is now, and Dallas is sitting at 8-7 with one game to go.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel: The New York Giants were dominated by the Baltimore Ravens this evening, and now next week's Dallas/Washington Redskins game will decide the winner of the NFC East.

If I'm Romo, I'm looking at the second-half film from the first meeting against Washington. Getting the ball to Bryant was what made the final score much closer.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? That may be the simple formula that decides Dallas' fate for the remainder of this season.