Broaddus: Analysis Of The INTs And The Red Zone Sack

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  • Two of the three interceptions Tony Romo threw in this game were just outstanding heads up plays by the San Francisco secondary. On the first pick of the day, the 49ers were in a single-high look with Eric Reid down in the box on the left side of the defense. Dez Bryant's route took him right to left across the secondary. Tony Romo has to believe that Reid is going to stay down and play to the curl or flat, but instead he retreats directly back into the crossing Bryant. On the play you can see that Reid is reading him all the way by his reactions.

On the interception by Perrish Cox in the second quarter, Romo's third of the day, the Cowboys lined up with Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar tight to the formation on the right side. There was no receiver to that side of the formation, so on Witten's release, Cox worked inside with him -- along with safety Antoine Bethea. Cox, looking back at Romo noticed that Dez Bryant had beaten cornerback Dontae Johnson and had moved on to Eric Reid. Looking inside, Cox turned his head back outside to track the ball and cut off Bryant. Cox was underneath Bryant as the ball was coming down and was able to get his hands up to finish the play with an interception. 

  • It looked like Romo was looking for Bryant again on the audible that led to his sack near the goal line. It's never a bad idea to try and get the ball to Dez Bryant when inside the five-yard line, but in this particular situation it was the wrong decision.

Chris Culliver and Eric Reid lined up playing coverage on Bryant inside and out. The options were limited with Bryant on the outside. Inside the box Romo was faced with six 49ers defenders, but he was able to match them with five offensive linemen and Jason Witten as a blocker. When the ball was snapped, the line and Witten all came off the ball like it was going to be a running [embedded_ad] play. Murray even started toward the line and created a pocket for Romo to put the ball in, but that never happened.

Romo's eyes went directly to Bryant, who was working to get away from the coverage, on the outside left. Along the offensive line, Tyron Smith had stepped hard inside right, which allowed Justin Smith to swim over him and take a direct path toward Romo -- who was waiting to see what was going to develop on the outside. Bryant was caught in no man's land on the route and Smith was able to finish the play and sack Romo.

If Romo had handed the ball to Murray going to the right side, the only defender that might have had a chance to stop him was Ray McDonald -- who was locked up with Zack Martin.  I like my chances with Murray and a head of steam to get that one yard for the first down, or even better, find his way into the end zone.

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