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Broaddus: Breaking Down Romo’s Final Interception

Posted Dec 31, 2012

Here’s a breakdown of the final interception by Tony Romo, which ended a legitimate chance to drive the field and win the game and the division. 

An Untimely Mistake 

With the Cowboys trailing 21-18 they take over the ball on their own 15 yard line after Anthony Spencer forces a Redskins punt with the only Cowboys sack of the night. With 3:33 on the clock, Romo sets up in “11” personnel with Witten inline right, Dwayne Harris far right, with Austin slot left and Ogletree outside of him. Romo is in the gun with Murray to his left. 

The Redskins show him a Cover 3 look pre snap, then rotate to a two deep look. Romo knowing that the Redskins are going to play two deep by their alignment alerts Witten that he is going to go with the ball in his direction. Witten gets a free release off the ball and is looking up the field as is Romo. Witten turns for the ball five yards up the field between the linebackers and in front of Madieu Williams as Romo hits him quickly with the ball. 

It’s a simple pitch and catch for 14 yards. It was a nice way to start the drive bringing the ball to the 29 yard line. 3:06 now left in the game, Romo rolling in no huddle still with his team in “11” personnel puts Witten again inline right, with Austin slot right and Harris outside of him. Ogletree is the lone receiver on the left side wide. Murray is once again left of Romo. 

The Redskins are still in their base defense with Doughty matched up with Austin in the slot and Jordan Pugh over the top of Witten. In his end of year press conference Jason Garrett said that the plan was to get Murray to release to the weak side and up the field. Romo tells Murray what he sees and appears to give a signal to Ogletree to take Josh Wilson up the field on the “9” route to clear. At the snap, Romo’s eyes are reading to the left as the Redskins are running a double “A” blitz with London Fletcher and Perry Riley. 

On Murray’s side Rob Jackson starts up the field like he is going to rush but peels outside with Murray. Jackson does such a nice job on the blitz it gets Parnell to kick outside to pick him up on the block but Parnell ends up blocking air, Livings picks up Stephen Bowen in the “B” gap but no one gets Riley who is on Romo quickly, who is now trying to deliver the ball off his back foot. 

Jackson is in perfect shape to get the ball that is thrown short by Romo for the interception. If the ball gets over the top of Jackson, Murray would only have to beat Wilson one-on-one to score a touchdown. It was a play that had promise at the start but in the end, but lacked execution. 

Tough Day For Receivers 

Going into this game, I really felt like that if the offensive line could have protected Romo there was an opportunity to make plays down the field. This Redskins defense had struggled in two areas, rushing the passer and playing pass defense. The Redskins best corner back was DeAngelo Hall and in some pre game reports on DallasCowboys.com talked about how he would tend to go with the opponents best receiver but also line up in the slot.

Hall was outstanding in this game and he gave Dez Bryant fits all night. He is a physical corner and he loves to play in that style. His aggressiveness has its positive side but it can also be a negative. Hall has had a reputation as a gambler but I saw nothing but sound technique. He played in position and didn’t give the Cowboys receivers any room to operate and made it difficult for Romo to find any open windows to deliver the ball. 

I wrote earlier in the week if Jim Haslett tried to take Bryant out of the game than Miles Austin would need to find a way to win on the outside. Even before he hurt his ankle, Austin was not winning and ended up with no catches. I have always believed that he was the best route runner on the team but he was far from that on Sunday night. He looked out of balance and was really struggling. 

On the second Romo interception, he was lined up against Josh Wilson who he should have owned but he tried to run a “shutter-go” and he never affected Wilson one bit out of his pedal. Wilson covered him like he was a rookie receiver that had never run a route. The pass was not great by Romo but this is something that we have seen from Austin before on a vertical ball he tends to miss play it or he doesn’t get himself in position to knock it down which usually results in an interception. 

I am not surprised that Jason Garrett told the media on Monday to put that call on him but in a one-on-one situation, Austin has to beat Wilson, it’s really that simple. The problem on Sunday it just wasn’t Austin that struggled but for a group that made so many plays this season they came up empty when this team needed them the most.

 

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