Bryant is inspiring teammates
do,” said tight end Jason Witten, who would know because he once ran 30 yards downfield without a helmet before getting tackled and played in the opener this season with a lacerated spleen. “He earned my respect.”
Bryant broke the finger on a catch against Cincinnati two weeks ago. He scored a critical touchdown in the 20-19 win after the injury and made it clear early last week that he would play against Pittsburgh.
Playing with a padded glove that exposed the tip of the broken finger, Bryant looked like a decoy in the first quarter because Tony Romo kept throwing to Miles Austin, but he still scored a touchdown for the sixth straight game — catching a ball away from his body, fingers first — and finished with four catches for 59 yards.
The Cowboys (8-6) beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime last weekend and emerged with control of their playoff hopes. Dallas moves on with wins over New Orleans (6-8) at home on Sunday and at Washington in the finale.
“I just wanted to be out there and I felt like I needed to,” Bryant said. “Miles came up to me and said, ‘We’re all really inspired by you playing.’ I can tell from the guys that it meant a lot.”
Jones, ever the optimist, has been guarded as Bryant kept stringing together good games. He gushed about the receiver after beating the Steelers, but scared Bryant a little by offering the possibility of a bone graft involving Bryant’s hip (“You’re not touching my hip,” Bryant told reporters Sunday after hearing the Jones diagnosis). Turns out Jones just misunderstood the doctors. The bone will come from the hand. But Jones’ point was clear: the injury is serious.
“He certainly is playing with some risks, but he was inspirational out there to everybody involved in the organization,” Jones said. “He meant it because we were still playing for all the marbles, and he wanted to give everything he could.”
While Dallas coach Jason Garrett said medical opinions did factor in the decision, Bryant said his reasoning was simple: The Cowboys were still in the playoff hunt.