IRVING, Texas -- Last week, I chose a couple of key matchups I thought might determine the outcome of the game against New Orleans. With the result in the rearview mirror, I wanted to go back and see how the Cowboys fared:
Cowboys QB Tony Romo vs. Saints DC Rob Ryan:
In visiting with some offensive players after the game on Sunday, it was very clear that Bill Callahan and the staff were worried about what they were going to see from Rob Ryan in this game.
My gut feeling was that we were going to see a quick game out of the "12" personnel to try and handle the Saints blitz packages. Early in the first drive, Romo delivered the ball to James Hanna in the flat for a nice gain and it appeared that my feeling was going to be accurate, but those types of plays were few and far between. The Cowboys were able to get their running game going, which the Saints have struggled with all year, but once the game got out of hand, throwing the ball was the only choice the Cowboys had to try and climb back into it.
What Ryan did to Romo, who I didn't believe was at good as he needed to be -- he took away his weapons. He made Dez Bryant fight for space all night, he covered Cole Beasley well out of the slot and Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush were top shelf against Witten.
Give Ryan credit but give the Saints offense a lot of credit too. They made Rob Ryan's matchup against Tony Romo a much easier night.
Cowboys LB Bruce Carter vs. Saints RB Darren Sproles:
Of all the matchups this Cowboys defense had to face on Sunday night, I believed this was going to be the most difficult one they had to try and control. [embedded_ad]
Darren Sproles is a nightmare for defensive coordinators to have to deal with because of his explosive quickness, but also his ability to catch the ball. Monte Kiffin's best shot to try and hold Sproles in check was Bruce Carter because of his athletic ability.
Where Sean Payton does such an outstanding job is creating ways for Drew Brees to get the ball to Sproles. Where I was worried about Sproles the most was on the screen packages, and the Saints were able to execute one to him for a touchdown. There was another time where Sproles was lined up out wide and Carter had to walk out with him in coverage, but in typical Sproles fashion, he was able to shake Carter on the route and present himself for the ball.
Sproles is just such a problem when you have to deal with him one-on-one in space, and Carter knew that going into this game. It was a tough matchup and could have been worse if anyone else has to cover Darren Sproles in my book.