The key play in yesterday’s Dallas-San Francisco game was a 77-yard pass from Tony Romo to Jesse Holley on the Cowboys’ first play in overtime.That catch and run gave the ‘Boys first and goal at the one-yard line and they kicked the game-winning field goal on the next play.
But how did Jesse Holley — who had never caught a pass in the NFL before Sunday — end up with the ball at such a key moment?
Holley first earned his spot on the Cowboys roster by winning Michael Irvin’s football reality TV show 4th and Long back in 2009. The show pit 12 aspiring NFL players (most of them down-on-their-luck long shots) against each other with the winner gaining a spot on Dallas’ training camp roster.
Holley didn’t make the team in 2009, but caught enough eyes to make the practice squad and earn another invite in 2010. He spent that season with team and moved up to the 53-man roster, but still didn’t see any throws in a crowded receiving corps.
When the Cowboys unloaded most of their overpriced wideouts this year, he got promoted. He finally caught his first NFL pass this weekend — on the last drive of regulation, when the Cowboys tied the game — before breaking out with his game (and possibly season) changing run.
Before his big TV breakthrough, Holley had already been cut by a CFL team and was selling mobile phones in North Carolina, thinking his football days were behind him. But he beat out hundreds of hopefuls to earn a spot on the show, proving that sometimes those reality TV promises actually do come through.
Here’s the play that turned it all around:
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