Dez Bryant’s Catch Wouldn’t Have Affected Outcome


Quite simply, it’s the story you heard all week. From ESPN to the water cooler at your office, every detail of Dez Bryant‘s catch that wasn’t has been analyzed and over-analyzed to the point we’re sick of hearing it. By now, each of us has seen the play so many times in slow motion that we can no longer remember what we saw in real time.

But I’m not here to tell you what to believe in this case. After all, does anyone truly know what a catch is anymore? I’m not sure that I do, at least according to what NFL league rules dictate.

In fact, so much emphasis and rhetoric has gone into this one single play that we easily overlook the big picture, that the Green Bay Packers still would have won this game.

Allow for me to reset the scene. With five minutes left in regulation, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo leads his team down to the Green Bay 32-yard line, down 26-21. And on the fourth-and-2 play, he hurled up a jump ball for Dez Bryant.

Now imagine if the outcome was different. The play is ruled a catch and the Cowboys now have a first-and-goal opportunity from the 1-yard line.

In this hypothetical, let’s also assume Dallas scores the touchdown to take the lead. In terms of a best case scenario for the Cowboys, they would have scored the touchdown on fourth down after three failed rushing attempts, all in an effort to burn clock.

However, even without timeouts, Green Bay would still get the ball back with time as the fourth down play would be run shortly after the two-minute warning.

Long story short, Green Bay would have had at least 1:50 left on the clock to produce a game-winning drive.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper. If Dallas had failed on the pending two-point conversation following the touchdown, Green Bay would have only been down one point and would only need the field goal to win. Had Dallas converted, Green Bay would obviously need at least a field goal to tie.

This is what Dallas fans hold onto in their attempt to argue that this one play changed the game. That the Cowboys would have gone up three points and held the Packers to at most a field goal, causing overtime and apparently new life.

I both understand and appreciate the argument. Ultimately, anything can happen in the NFL. But if it’s fair to assume that if Dallas would have gone up three, it’s also just as fair to assume that there was absolutely no chance Aaron Rodgers would have thrown an interception on the final drive.

After all, the MVP front-runner didn’t throw an interception within the friendly confines of Lambeau Field all season.

Now in the actual game, in an effort to burn clock the Packers managed to march down to the Dallas 28-yard line in a total of 2:06. While this was certainly aided by two Dallas timeouts and a two-minute warning stoppage of time, four of the six plays were rushes by Eddie Lacy.

Considering a hurry-up offense with one of the best quarterbacks in the game, the Packers would have made it much farther than the 28 against the Dallas defense. Remember that we’re also assuming Green Bay would have had slightly less than two minutes remaining.

Had Dallas scored the touchdown on first down, Aaron Rodgers would have had nearly four minutes to orchestrate a game-winning drive.

By this point in the game, Rodgers had led the green-and-gold into the end zone on the previous two drives, and seemed just as effective on the final. And since this is my hypothetical after all, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the best player in the league this season leads his team down on this final drive and brings home the victory.

I certainly realize how extreme this all is. Whenever fans decide to play the “What If” game, it always turns out messy. The point in all of this is to realize that as a fan, one must kick this habit of determining the outcome of a game based on one particular play.

As fans, we do this more often than you think. Travel back to the wild card round and one can remember the outrage presented by Detroit Lions fans after an apparent penalty was reversed in the fourth quarter. What’s remarkable, is that there were still eight minutes left in the game. Eight! Yet, no one finds it ridiculous to consider this the play that decided the game.

Contrary to popular belief, it takes more than one great play to win a football game. A fact that is so easily forgotten. Had DeMarco Murray not fumbled, or Dan Bailey not missed an earlier field goal attempt, Dez Bryant’s apparent drop might not have even mattered. Yet, all past concerns are thrown out the window when all attention and blame can be placed to one singular moment.

No one can obviously say how the game would have actually ended if the play had been ruled a catch. Dallas could have just as easily fumbled on the next play, as was possible for Green Bay. But whether it be karma or the football gods that you believe in, one way or another, Green Bay was meant to win this game.

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