ARLINGTON — For the second straight week, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was under the microscope for his emotional attitude and the way his passion for the game displays itself.
With less than one minute left in the third quarter, Bryant barked at refs after getting flagged for offensive pass interference. He also took off his helmet to make sure his case was heard, but that's an NFL no-no and he was slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The 15-yard infraction pushed the Cowboys out of field goal range and made a game that shouldn't have been close far too close for comfort.
"I heard the ref saying, 'He took his helmet off,' and I seen him throw the flag," Bryant said. "I know now not to take my helmet off. If you go back and look at the play you’ll see I’m shocked. I’m confused, not mad."
The mistake comes on the heels of Bryant's sideline rants in Detroit that made national headlines. Bryant jawed at teammates in a mostly positive manner, but also got nose-to-nose with tight end Jason Witten near the end of the game.
Bryant told News 8 Sports he should have taken a different approach with Witten, and he'd do his best to learn from what happened against the Lions.
Now, the mercurial receiver will have to learn from not knowing a rule that's actually named after a former Cowboy in the Hall of Fame. The 1997 NFL forbids players from taking off their helmets unless their on the sidelines or in between quarters. It's commonly known as the "Emmitt Smith rule." Smith was known to take his helmet off after scoring touchdowns.
While Bryant vows to change and evolve, don't expect him to strip away part of what he says makes him go. Passion's his fuel and don't expect it to go anywhere.
"It kind of threw me off a little bit," Bryant said. "I have to watch myself. I didn’t want y'all to get me on camera and make me look like a fool. I had to watch that a little bit and I had to contain it a little bit. That’s me. It’s all positive. I feel like that’s who I am. That’s what brings the excitement to me and to others. I can’t let nobody destroy the passion I have for this game."