Bryant, the talented Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, lined up against Sherman, the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback, unofficially 48 times.
Of those snaps, 26 were running plays. Quarterback Tony Romo directed six passes toward Bryant with Sherman covering him.
He completed two, a 23-yard reception in which Sherman was penalized for tripping and a 16-yard back shoulder fade in the fourth quarter.
Bryant finished with four catches -- one in the second half -- and Sherman was penalized twice and had zero pass breakups, but was strong in the run game as he made eight tackles.
“One of the best, arguably the best, and I had to bring my A-game today,” Bryant said of Sherman. “And I made some plays and he made some plays, but at the end of the day, we got the W.”
The Cowboys didn’t need much of Bryant to win on Sunday, however. Seattle’s game plan had him covered often by cornerback Byron Maxwell.
When Maxwell went out with an ankle sprain in the first quarter, everything changed. Seattle didn’t want to use second-year cornerback Marcus Burley on Bryant, so Sherman shifted from staying at left corner to a player who followed Bryant all over the field.
“You didn’t want to put the young guy in that situation, and that’s what you got to do sometimes in games like that,” Sherman said. “He’s a great receiver and you don’t want to give him the matchup they desire and you switch things up on him.”
Sherman played Bryant in a variety of ways, but mainly in man-to-man. There were times when Bryant tried stop-and-go routes but nothing worked on a consistent basis.
“Well, it’s interesting, because I had yet to see them move Sherman around, and so they kind of ended up having to, and I know they had the corner hurt,” Romo said. “But they tracked Dez and they hadn’t done that before. I don’t think they necessarily changed their defense, but that was a little out of character for them.”
Romo didn’t throw any passes in Bryant’s direction with Sherman lined up on him on first-and-goal at the 5 late in the first quarter.
Romo directed two passes at tight end Gavin Escobar and the Cowboys ran with DeMarco Murray. Maxwell almost picked off a Romo pass at the goal line. Romo went back to Escobar on the next play for a 2-yard touchdown pass, the Cowboys’ first score of the game.
The Cowboys' big plays on offense came from second-year receiver Terrance Williams (two receptions, 70 yards) and, of course, Murray, who rushed for 115 yards.
Bryant was a good decoy at times, but for all the hype about this special matchup, nothing magical happened, just mutual respect between elite players.
“I knew me and Sherman would be going against each other a lot,” Bryant said. “Like I said, I knew I had to bring my A-game. I feel like I could have done a lot better job, [but] we got the W, so that’s all that matters.”