Dez Bryant has set new career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns in his third season. (Sharon Ellman/AP)
Dez Bryant had scored eight times in his last six games, heading into Sunday. The Cowboys, over that same stretch, posted a 5-1 record.
That the two hot streaks have lined up is no coincidence -- Bryant can be one of the more dominant players in the league, and it appears that he may have finally flipped the switch from a solid but inconsistent receiver to an elite option.
If Sunday's game against the Saints was any indication, there may be no stopping Bryant in the near future. He made five catches for 145 yards in the opening 30 minutes, plus scored twice on matching 58-yard receptions. He finished with 224 yards and those two scores on nine catches.
It wasn't enough, this time, to get the Cowboys the win, as they fell 34-31 in overtime. Still, it was an impressive effort from the ever-maturing Bryant.
On the first touchdown, Bryant blew past Patrick Robinson for an easy deep connection with Tony Romo. Later, Bryant caught a quick slant against Robinson, fought off a tackle attempt by Isa Abdul-Quddus and strolled into the end zone.
Bryant's talent level is undeniable, but questions about his mental make-up have followed him -- the Cowboys placed a midnight curfew on him this season after a July domestic violence incident.
The 24-year-old Bryant failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving last season and did not even have a 100-yard game. This year, he has five, including Sunday's outing.
This recent run also has come with the Cowboys struggling to find consistent pass-catchers beyond Bryant and tight end Jason Witten -- Miles Austin has not surpassed 80 yards receiving since Week 7, and no other Cowboys aside from Bryant, Witten and Austin entered Week 16 with more than 29 catches on the season.
And Bryant is playing with an injured finger that will require surgery after the season. He could have gone under the knife a couple weeks back, and instead opted to fight through that injury.
Bryant is a nightmare matchup for defensive backs when he's on his game. His size makes him a tough enough one-on-one cover, but he has an incredible set of hands and the ability to make defenders miss, too. In fact, Bryant ranked 11th in the league in yards after the catch through 14 games, and he added to his 365-yard total against the Saints.