IRVING, Texas -For the most part, the Cowboys' improbable fourth quarter meltdown on Sunday came down to three devastating plays - Tony Romo's fumble inside the Jets' 5-yard line, the blocked punt, and the Darrelle Revis interception.
After analyzing the film and showing it to his playing on Monday, Jason Garrett broke down exactly what went wrong on each. The fumble came on a third-and-goal scenario from the 2-yard line, with under 10 minutes to play, and Romo scrambling for the end zone, which would have put the Cowboys back up by two touchdowns. The Jets had stacked the line of scrimmage with nine defenders, discouraging a run call.
"It's hard to run it down there when they're doing that," Garrett said. "I thought Tony managed the situation well, saying 'I don't like the throw, I'm going to run the ball, I'm going to be smart, I know what the situation is, it'll keep the clock going, it'll give us a chance to kick a field goal.' So I thought he handled that well. The ball just came out, unfortunately."
While Romo's fumble essentially took points off the board for the Cowboys, the Jets didn't tie the game until near the five-minute mark, when Joe McKnight split Cowboys punt blockers John Phillips and Alex Albright, and wasn't picked up by Jesse Holley, the personal protector for Mat McBriar.
"They had kind of an overload rush down the middle, so to speak," Garrett said. "We had guys that turned out instead of turning in, and the free rusher was let loose right down the middle and he blocked the kick ... You have to identify where you're going. You count numbers, and for the most part we've handled those sitations really, really well."
Of course, the play that ultimately cost the Cowboys the game, because it was nearest to the end and set up Nick Folk's game-winning field goal, was Revis' interception of Tony Romo with less than a minute left.
Romo was looking for Dez Bryant on the right side, but the receiver ended up in no-man's land between the cornerback and safety. Garrett's explanation settles any lingering question of where blame should go for the play.
"Revis had turned his back to Tony," Garrett said. "Tony had to move - he felt a little bit flushed from the left-hand side, and I think he felt like he could drive the ball up into the hole of the defense. They were playing what we call 2-man. There was a half-safety deep, and Revis was in trail technique. And I think he thought he was going to be able to shoot it in there before Revis turned, and Tony being on the move and kind of throwing it on the run a little bit, I don't think he threw the ball exactly where he wanted to. And as soon as he threw it, Revis turned around and made the play.
"So, I don't think the location was great. I think in hindsight the decision was a little aggressive, certainly for that situation."
For his part in the two turnovers, Romo accepted full blame for the loss after Sunday's game.