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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant’s ‘catch’ against Packers in last divisional-round matchup still a hot topic

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches a pass against Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis. The play was reversed. The Packers won 26-21. Credit: AP/Matt Ludtke

Two years later, the debate rages on.

Was it a catch?

Was it not a catch?

History will forever show that the fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant at the goal line at Lambeau Field initially was ruled a completion, challenged by the Packers and changed to an incompletion that helped give Green Bay a divisional-round victory over Dallas. Instead of first-and-goal at the 1 for the Cowboys, the Packers got the ball and never relinquished it.

Those are the facts. But for many, that falls far short of settling it.

“[Fans say] it’s January blah, blah, blah, 2017, 3:29 p.m., and I just want the world to know that Dez Bryant still caught it,” Bryant said Thursday, paraphrasing some of the social media posts he curiously sought out once he learned that his Cowboys would be facing the Packers again, this time in Dallas, in Sunday’s divisional round.

Bryant himself, though, said he has moved past it.

“I don’t even care,” he said. “That was 2014. There’s no extra motivation, no nothing . . . It’s already erased. I don’t think about it. I’m just thinking about this game and I’m viewing it like any other game.”

It took a while for Bryant to reach that point. He spoke about spending the weeks after that play in miserable isolation.

“It was tough. It was heartbreaking. It ended our season,” he said. “But I’m done with it.”

Not everyone is, based on the social media posts Bryant cited.

“Still to this day,” Bryant said. “ ‘Dez Bryant still caught it.’ ”

And that play still lingers over the Cowboys’ franchise.

“There’s a lot of emotion that goes into that play and that moment, for all of us,” tight end Jason Witten said Thursday. “I don’t think any one moment like that can define any of us. Certainly we all reflect on it and look back on it, and it probably hardened us some. It’s a great example of the margin at this point in the season.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett would not address that play in particular, but earlier in the week, he did discuss how he now coaches his receivers to complete catches so they won’t be overturned upon review like that fateful one two years ago.

“Certainly on plays where you’re going to the ground and make sure the ball doesn’t move,” Garrett said. “We’ve emphasized that with all of our guys, not only our receivers but tight ends, backs and defensive players. If that’s how they’re going to call it, then that’s how we have to make sure we catch the football.”

Bryant said he, too, works on that skill. “That falls under the [category] of preparation,” he said. “Just prepare better.”

That’s the lesson Bryant said he brings with him from the previous game to this one. His teammates have noticed.

“I think his focus is on the opportunity we have now,” Witten said. “Even though he’ll never forget that play, as none of us will, I thought it was a great play by him. But you move forward.”


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