Moments of Heartbreak: Dallas Cowboys – Dez Bryant’s Controversial Non-Catch

Who are the Dallas Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys joined the NFL in 1960 as an expansion team. Since their inception, they have been one of the most decorated teams in the National Football League. They have appeared in the Super Bowl 8 times and have won 5 times. Their 5 Super Bowls is good enough to put them at second all time (tied with New England and San Francisco) just behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys are also the only NFL team in history to have 20 straight winning seasons (1966-1985).

The Cowboys are also often referred to as “America’s Team.” This is a nickname that was given to the Cowboys in a 1978 highlights film. In the film, the narrator opened up the film with the following quote:

They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team.”

America’s Team has since become the most valuable team in the world, worth an estimated 4 billion. They also earned a record 620 million in 2014. For all intents and purposes, they are a popular franchise. But popularity doesn’t save a franchise from heartbreak. The Dallas Cowboys and their fans fell victim to this divisional round of the playoffs in the 2014 season.

The 2014 Season

Despite losing Demarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher to free agency as well as Sean Lee to a season ending injury, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the best teams in the 2014 season.  On the back of Demarco Murray and his record breaking season, the Cowboys finished the season with a 12-4 record. The Cowboys were the NFC East Champs and tied with the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks for the 1 and 2 seed in the NFC, but ended up losing the tie breaker. This gave them a first round match-up with the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round. This was the first time since 2009 that the Cowboys have made the playoffs and their 12-4 record was a large improvement over their 8-8 the season prior.

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Despite being down 17-7 at half, the Cowboys, for the first time in franchise history, rallied from 10 down to dispatch of the Lions 24-20. This win gave the Cowboys 34 playoff wins, which at the time was an NFL record, putting them one above the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the win over the Lions, the Cowboys were moving on to play the 2nd seeded Green Bay Packers at the historical Lambeau Field.

The Divisional Round

In 2010, during a week 1 match up between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, Calvin Johnson, with both feet down, came down with what looked like a touchdown. Upon further review, it was deemed that he did not maintain control throughout the catch. The catch was ruled incomplete and the touchdown was taken away. This was the birth of the very controversial “Calvin Johnson Rule.”

Since this game, there have been many controversial calls over what is a catch and what is not a catch. One of the most famous, if not the most famous, catches (or non catches) happened in this playoff game against the Packers. Down 26-21 with 9:10 on the clock, the Cowboys were driving, looking to earn a trip to their first conference championship game since 1995. Demarco Murray broke open the drive with a 30 yard rush, putting the Cowboys at the their 48 yard line. After completions to Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys found themselves at the Packers 32 yard line on a 4th and 2 with 5:34 left.

With the game on the line, Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant, who leaped over defender Sam Sheilds for a 31 yard catch to put the Cowboys at the Packers 1 yard line. 1 yard from a trip to the NFC championship game against the Seattle Seahawks. But was it a catch? The Packers challenged the call on the field of a completed pass. Upon further review, the catch was ruled incomplete as it had appeared that Dez was unable to keep control of the ball as he had hit the ground. The Packers would get the ball back and run the clock out. Sending them to the NFC Championship. This catch, or non catch depending on how you look at it, is still one that’s talked about today. Was it catch? You decide. No matter how you look at it, it cost the Dallas Cowboys their season.

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Bonus Moments of Heartbreak!

The Tony Romo botched field goal hold:

“The Catch”

Quick shoutout to Cowboys fans on Reddit for their help with this article. Here are a few more moments of heartbreak they have experienced.

Reddit user DakGOAT – Dez Bryant catch.

That was our year.

Reddit user woodzy13 – The bobbled field goal… The field goal that beat us this year that I thought went wide… Dez catch…

Reddit user JWeb_Gem – Patrick Crayton in the 2007 Divisional round. The drop AND the route stop…

Reddit user _Cowboys – Losing 3 straight win to get in games in the final game of the season. Losing to Giants, Redskins, and Eagles. It doesn’t get more painful then that.

Reddit user caried – Roy Williams. The Roy Williams, turning to shit. He was my favorite player in my teen years. A bright spot on a dismally average team. Parcels calling him a biscuit away from being a linebacker is what started the downward trend.

Still one of my favorite players. I still have an obviously fake autographed jersey an old girlfriend bought me online I treasure like it’s real.

Reddit user ohmmhs – Watching Romo go down in the pre season game against Seattle.

So much hype that off season about him being healthy and having a 1st round HB that completed the offense. Before we knew what Dak would bring to the table, this tore my heart apart. Romo will forever be my favorite Cowboy of all time but, thank you Dak for making the transition easy and giving us hope.

Want to experience more heartbreak? Check out last weeks post on the Cleveland Browns and “The Move”

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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