DALLAS — Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says he thought receiver Dez Bryant was aware of the NFL rule prohibiting players from taking off their helmets.
"We certainly thought that Dez knew that rule and everybody on our team knew it," Garrett said Monday on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM. "But, again, we have to make sure that they do and we'll use the as an opportunity to help our team get better."
With less than one minute left in the third quarter, Bryant yelled at refs after getting flagged for offensive pass interference. He also took off his helmet and was slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, pushing the Cowboys out of field goal range.
"I was shocked about that," Bryant said. "I didn't know that was a penalty, but when I saw us not in field goal range anymore, I was kind of like, 'Damn, I've made a mistake.'"
Bryant wasn't alone in costly plays against the Vikings. The price was nearly losing a game that had no business even being close. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he saw the season flash before his eyes following each late-game miscue.
"That's how you lose these games," he said. "Now, I'm not just referring to Dez. We had several penalties out there. We had penalties at inopportune times. That's how you lose."
The rule Bryant broke is named after a Cowboys Hall of Famer. It's commonly referred to as "Emmitt Smith rule." Smith had a habit of taking off his helmet immediately after scoring touchdowns and the league stepped in and changed the rule in 1997. The new rule states players can only take off their helmets on the sideline or in between periods.
"Maybe at the time he didn't know the rule, and you know that's something we have to do," Garrett said. "We have to continue to remind guys of that penalty. It's a good learning and teaching lesson for all of us to make sure guys know those kinds of rules."