Cowboys relieved after reckless Dez Bryant avoids disaster

IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett referred to Dez Bryant’s adventurous punt return near the end of the third quarter Sunday as “pretty darn aggressive – and arguably too aggressive.”

Flirting with disaster would be another way to put it.

Bryant misjudged the 55-yard punt and had to make a difficult, over-the-head grab just to get the ball in his hands. And that was just the beginning of the adventure. Bryant made two Carolina tacklers miss, switched the ball from his right hand to his left hand and held it like a loaf of bread before finally going down.

All that for a 3-yard loss.

“Ultimately, I think we all were relieved when he was tackled and we still had the ball,” Garrett said.

After the game, Bryant said he should have just let the ball hit at the 14-yard line after misjudging it. By that time, the coaching staff had made sure to get the message across that even the most dynamic playmakers need to mix in a little caution on occasion.

“I had it in my mind that I had to make a play,” said Bryant, who had been checked for a concussion and cleared after taking a hard hit on his previous punt return. “I didn’t know where I was on the field. All I was thinking about was returning the ball.”

Disaster avoided, Garrett just hopes Bryant learns a lesson from the play. The Cowboys want Bryant to be aggressive, but this clearly crossed the line to recklessness.

“Ball security is line one as a returner,” Garrett said. “He was aggressive catching that thing over his head. And maybe worse than that was holding the ball as loosely as he held it once he had the ball in his hands. And that’s something you’ve heard me preach a ton. We drill it all the time. For a guy like that, you keep wanting to give him opportunities, but he’s got to make sure he secures it better.”