IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant was ready to talk about squaring off against Seattle's Richard Sherman just minutes after his spectacular catch essentially gave the Cowboys a win against Houston in overtime.
The Dallas receiver was also looking forward to a matchup of NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray and Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch.
"We've got two beasts," Bryant said after his 37-yard catch on a desperation third-down pass from Tony Romo set up Dan Bailey's 49-yard field goal for a 20-17 win Sunday after Dallas had blown a 10-point lead in the last 3 minutes of regulation.
Bryant is talking about Murray, who has a franchise-record 670 yards through five games, and Lynch, who goes by the nickname "Beast Mode" for Seattle's powerfully efficient offense.
But he could have been talking about the game, with the Cowboys taking a four-game winning streak and their first 4-1 record since 2008 to the home of the defending Super Bowl champion on Sunday.
The Cowboys haven't been to the playoffs since 2009, and there weren't many predicting an end to that drought when the season started with endless questions about the defense and a loss to San Francisco that included three interceptions from Romo. Now they're tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East.
"This gives us a tremendous challenge with a little bit of cushion in every way you look at it," owner Jerry Jones said. "If we can go up to Seattle and come out with a win when no one is expecting it, we can build off it."
Jones' last trip to Seattle in 2012 wasn't pretty. The Cowboys were coming off a shocking season-opening win over the Super Bowl champion New York Giants when they fumbled the opening kickoff and got pushed around in a 27-7 loss. It was Russell Wilson's first career victory in his second start, and set the Dallas tone for the second of three straight 8-8 seasons under coach Jason Garrett.
This time, the Cowboys and Seahawks have the top two rushing offenses in the league through Sunday — the first sign that Dallas wants to be more physical — and the Dallas defense is showing a lot more resistance than last year's league-worst unit.
Dallas held on against the Texans despite the fourth fumble in five games from Murray, an interception by Romo that cost the team points and a fumbled punt return from Dwayne Harris — just the kind of mistake that doomed them in Seattle two years ago.
A defense that has posted a shutout for at least a half in four of five games this season couldn't get a stop at the end of regulation, but did get the offense the ball by forcing a punt after Houston's Arian Foster ran 24 yards on the first play of overtime.
"Being 4-1 is great, but we have a long way to go," Romo said. "We made too many mistakes that could have cost us. We're lucky to come out with a win. I'm proud of the effort and the way it went, but we have to correct some things."
Bryant, who had a 2-yard scoring catch to put Dallas up 17-7 against Houston, faces the challenge of Sherman if he wants to match the second-longest touchdown streak of his career at five games.
"He's a great corner, arguably the best in the league," Bryant said. "I do look forward to it, just a great battle. It's not about that. It's really about trying to get this 'W.'"
NOTES: The Cowboys activated S Jakar Hamilton off the exempt list and waived LB Keith Smith. Hamilton was suspended for the first four games under the league's substance-abuse policy after missing a drug test.
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