Dez Bryant never got his long-awaited chance to face the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night.
In another twist to an unpredictable 2020 season marred by COVID-19, Bryant was informed he had tested positive Tuesday night and he did not play after arriving at M&T Bank Stadium. It was supposed to be Bryant's first chance to face the Cowboys, the team he was with for eight seasons while becoming the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown catches.
Bryant was not on the field with the rest of his teammates when the Ravens engaged in pre-game warmups. A short time later, it was determined that Bryant would not be allowed to play.
Head Coach John Harbaugh described the unusual situation following Baltimore's 34-17 victory. He was informed by General Manager Eric DeCosta before the game that Bryant could not play and that the Ravens would be a player short.
"The timing of this thing, it's a crazy kind of a deal," Harbaugh said. "We had already turned in our inactives. Eric came down and told me that Dez had an inconclusive test and they were re-testing. We had to wait on that. In the meantime the league told us we would not be allowed to bring a different player up if he tested positive.
"They came back out when we were on the field in pre-game warmups and said he had tested positive and he would not be allowed to play."
Bryant had talked about looking forward to facing the Cowboys a few days earlier, but he will have to wait for that opportunity. All of Bryant's teammates felt badly for him.
"We found out when we were on the field warming up," Lamar Jackson said. "We only had like four receivers out there and we were looking around for him. We knew how much it meant to him."
Without Bryant, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (five catches, 39 yards, one touchdown) was a reliable target for Jackson, with the Ravens also missing wide receiver Willie Snead IV and tight end Mark Andrews who are on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Brown said he had to focus on playing, even though he was upset to hear the news about Bryant.
"I feel for Dez, I didn't hear the news until I was warming up for the game," Brown said. "I was like, 'Man, that's crazy.' I was getting ready for the game so I couldn't put too much thought into it. Now after the game just thinking about it, I'm just praying for him. I hope he's in good spirits."
Defensive end Derek Wolfe said it was another example that in 2020, the Ravens must continue to overcome the unexpected.
"That's the year that we're dealing with," Wolfe said. "You just never know what's going to happen. I feel for Dez, I know he wanted to play in this game bad. He had a great week of practice. He was a great leader all week. It's just sad that he didn't get a chance to come out here and play against his old team."