Holler: Bryant primed for redemption

Dez Bryant wanted to be known as the top receiver in the NFL but got outdone by a record-setting performance from Calvin Johnson. Now a perturbed Bryant is set to face the Vikings and their 29th-ranked pass defense.

Much has been made over the last couple of days over the animated discussions on the sidelines of the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. In the media business, that becomes a feeding frenzy.

It was a Detroit-Dallas beat writer's dream. All week before the game, the water had been chummed with the hypothetical argument over who was the better wide receiver – Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant, whom the Cowboys thought so much of that they gave him Michael Irvin's number. It was a big "to-do." There was trash-talking going on. There was hype on both sides of the discussion.

On Sunday, Megatron set the record straight and left no doubt. A time zone away, he planted his flag in the center of the Cowboys star. His 329 receiving yards were the second most in NFL history and proved that, if you poke a lion with a stick you're going to end up like Roy from Siegfried & Roy – a whole lotta messed up.

Dezi had some ‘splaining to do.

Bryant's wounds have healed. They've scabbed over, but they're still there as a painful reminder. On the day he was going to challenge the champ and make it crowded at the top of the medal stand, Bryant caught two touchdowns … and one other pass. Megatron was as advertised – almost inhuman. Dallas witnessed the Rise of the (Megatron) Machine and didn't like what they saw. As hard as it was to accept, Bryant was humbled by the comparison.

Now, arguably the No. 2 receiver in the NFL – that particular argument clearly starts at No. 2 and only goes south from there – is salty and looking to take it out on someone.

Entering the forgiving Vikings defense, stage left.

Under the IMAX Jumbotron of the Taj Ma Y'all in suburban Dallas, the first post-Megatron beatdown will take place. If Bryant needed motivation, he got it Sunday. And Monday. And Tuesday. He's beyond mad. That's never good. When Randy Moss held a grudge, bad things happened. You don't like elite diva receivers when they're angry.

The Vikings have a head coach that played with one of the greatest teams of all time – and played in the secondary. He knows what's coming. Leslie Frazier may need to oversee the defensive game plan.

Jerry Jones is going to make sure that the Cowboys offense is marinated in Dez sauce. If such bets exist, the over/under on Bryant targets Sunday should be conservatively set at 13, but more likely will be at 16½ just to get people to bet on the other side. The Dez Definition (the Cowboys version of the Randy Ratio) is going to be in full force Sunday.

The coaching staff has been formulating a game plan they will drop on the Vikings defense this morning. It's going to include a lot of Bryant-centric emphasis.

Can the Vikings secondary stop him? One thing they know is that he isn't going to take plays off unless they shut him down.

Good luck with that.


  • It was a tough weekend for Fran Tarkenton, but it was indicative as any currently available statistic as to the fundamental shift in how the NFL game is played. Tarkenton, arguably the first successful NFL read-option QB, retired as the NFL's all-time touchdown leader. His 342 touchdowns set the bar 52 higher than Johnny Unitas. For a guy known for his scrambling, it was his passes that cemented his Hall of Fame induction. Dan Marino would break his landmark achievement 17 years later. It would take eight more years for Brett Favre to drop Tark to third on the all-time list. In 2009, six years later, Peyton Manning dropped Fran to Ringo status at No. 4. The progression had been slow, but was speeding up. He held the top spot for 17 years. He held second for eight and third for six. On Sunday, Tarkenton went from fourth to sixth in less than 90 minutes. Thanks to a TD pass from Tom Brady and the fifth from Drew Brees, Tarkenton's 342 touchdown passes are now out of the top five and one can only wonder how many more will surpass a record that took so long to beat initially, but now gets checker-jumped without a whole lot of fanfare.

  • The next time you see the Bryant blowup on the sidelines (you will many times whether you want to or not), check out the reaction of QB coach and former Viking Wade Wilson. Head coach Jason Garrett is in the mix, but, after a Zapruder film-quick glance toward Bryant, Wilson keeps his eyes and apparently his ears on Garrett only and completely ignores Bryant. Wade is a company man, which Mr. Jones always appreciates.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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