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41) Will The Cowboys Be Forced To Air It Out Again This Year?


IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.

Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.

As we count down the days to camp, the writers of will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.

With 41 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the team's reliance on the passing game.  

*41) Will the Cowboys' attack be more balanced, or will they once again be forced to throw the ball to get up and down the field? *

Tony Romo threw the ball 648 times last year.

That's 98 more times than his previous high in a season, when he threw 550 times in 2009. That 2009 season also included a game against the Giants, in which Romo completed 41 passes, setting the Cowboys' record for most completions in a game.

Despite the exorbitant number of attempts last year, Romo never completed more than 37 passes in a game during that time. Teams knew he would throw when the running game went stale, which it did more often than not in a dismal rushing year for the Cowboys, who finished 31st in the league running the ball.

The Cowboys drafted a center in the first round and added a backup running back in the fifth round, both to bolster the running game which struggled, particularly when DeMarco Murray missed the middle of the season. They also added a new person to call plays in Bill Callahan to start the year.

All of these changes were made to bolster the offense, particularly the poor rushing attack which led to just eight rushing touchdowns last season.

As the rushing game struggled, Romo kept throwing. That led to moments of brilliance, including three touchdowns and 303 passing yards in a win against Philadelphia. It also led to moments of disaster, including a five-interception game against Chicago.

Romo tied his career high with 19 interceptions last season, and without a rushing game, it'd be hard to reverse those results in the future, even if the passing touchdown total remains high. [embedded_ad]

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 41:

  • While Romo holds the Cowboys' record for most completions in a game with 41, Warren Moon holds the record for most completions by a Cowboys opponent in a game, also with 41.
  • Linebacker Ken Norton Jr. was taken with the 41st overall pick in the 1988 NFL Draft.
  • Charlie Waters sits third all-time on the team with 41 career interceptions. Two of the most prominent players to wear the No. 41 are Waters (1970-78, 1980-81) and Terence Newman (2003-11).
  • Emmitt Smith holds the Cowboys' record for most consecutive games leading the team in rushing with 41.
  • The fewest yards on punt returns by Cowboys opponents in a season came in 1972, when the team allowed just 41 punt return yards.
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