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Scout's Eye: Romo's Clutch Play, Stopping the Run Among Thoughts

1). I honestly don't know if the Tony Romo that took the field in London two weeks ago could have pulled this game out against the Giants on Sunday. Against the Jaguars, I thought he played more on his guts than he did his ability. His back wasn't right and he knew it, but he would not allow it to affect the remainder of this season. On Sunday night, for the entire nation to see, Romo looked more like himself. When the Giants brought pressure, he had an answer. His mobility in this game allowed him the opportunity to slide in the pocket and make some critical throws, especially on that final drive. Where Romo has always been at his best is when he can bounce in the pocket while the whole time keeping his eyes down the field. As clutch as Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray and this offensive line were in the second half of this contest, I felt like it was their quarterback that looked more like the player that we had observed during their six-game winning streak, and that is a positive sign going forward.

2). In my Cowboys Win-Giants Win piece for, the only way that I thought the Giants would be able to win this game was if they were more balanced in their offensive game plan. The more the Giants throw the ball, the more problems they tend to have with mistakes. I was worried that Rashad Jennings would bring a little juice to their rushing attack, and I was also concerned that the changes the Giants made for this game along the offensive line might have helped as well. Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo did try and run the ball. As a matter of fact, he called 32 running plays. But much like what the Giants have experienced all season, those carries only went for 89 yards and a 2.8 average. Where this Cowboys defense has improved the most from the preseason is in the way that they have defended the run, and that is due to the addition of Rolando McClain, moving Tyrone Crawford to under-tackle and a fresher Nick Hayden. Teams have had a difficult time moving those three out of the middle of the defense, which has made all the difference in the way they have played as a unit.

3). I had a follower on Twitter during the game ask me why Dez Bryant disappears during big games? I always find it amusing when I get questions about Bryant and how he's playing on any given day. What you have to understand is that these defensive coordinators are not stupid and are not going to allow Bryant to beat them. They are going to make Bryant fight for every ball that comes in his direction. They are going to play corners up tight, linebackers underneath and safeties over the top to keep him from running routes. In this game it was no different, and there are going to be stretches where he might not be as productive as he needs to be. But when the game was on the line, did you see who was finding ways to get open? It was Bryant. He has come miles in how he is dealing with all this attention, and there was no question who that final pass Romo threw was going to. Like he has the balance of this season, Bryant found a way to work himself open and his quarterback hit him with a strike. So before you ask me why Dez is doing this or that, maybe we should just all have a little faith that he is going to make a play no matter how tough it might be for him.    

4). Call me an LSU homer, but I am not one bit surprised about the type of catches that Odell Beckham Jr. made on Sunday night. He is one of the most talented receivers that I have ever scouted. But what is interesting about Beckham is that there were times in college where he would make a reception like he did on Brandon Carr and then on the very next play drop the easiest of passes. For a little insight on draft day, the Giants had him sitting much higher on their board than the Cowboys did. He was still a first-round player, but Dallas had him near the bottom of the round.

5). For all you folks that were interested in getting rid of Dwayne Harris as the primary punt and kickoff return man, you might want to reconsider that thought. Harris had four returns for 68 yards, which averages out to 17 yards a return. Harris also had a nice stop on Beckham on a punt return, driving him to the sidelines, and was credited with another assist in his coverage work for the night. From my findings during the bye week in watching special teams tape, especially on returns, it takes all 10 guys doing their jobs in order to execute a return. Promise when I sit down on Monday and watch this game the blocking will be improved.

6). Always remember to evaluate offensive linemen for all their plays and just not three or four of them. There were times when Tyron Smith wasn't great against Jason Pierre-Paul, but when they needed him to be outstanding on that final drive, he punished the Giants rush end.

7). Nice adjustment by Rod Marinelli and this defensive staff to not allow Beckham to run his routes without at least two defensive backs in the area. I am sure when I study the tape that it wasn't all the time, but it appeared to make Eli Manning look a different direction in the second half.

8). Giants tight end Larry Donnell had only two catches for 24 yards, which was surprising. In my pregame evaluations I would have bet a steak dinner that he would have had at least eight to nine catches that were potentially back-breaking for this Cowboys defense. Daniel Fells, the other tight end, had a much bigger game. Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath all took turns with that assignment against Donnell and were rock solid.

9). I thought the more that this Cowboys defensive line could make the Giants offensive line have to chase them on twist stunts, the more success they might have with their pressure on Manning. It looked like on the two sacks they had during the game that it was twist stunts that got home on the rush and caused problems. I really like the combination that the Cowboys have inside with Tyrone Crawford and Henry Melton and their ability to penetrate these blocking schemes.

10). If you listen to our daily radio show Talkin' Cowboys, you have heard my concerns about this Cowboys secondary and what might happen going forward. I thought they did a much better job of battling in the second half after having a rough beginning to the game, but I am curious to see what the issues were on that 14-play, 93-yard drive when the Giants had six first downs along the way and took the lead. New York had receptions for 12, 16, 16, and 27 yards on four different plays. I am sure there were some problems with the pressure on Manning, but this secondary has got to be able to close offenses down at the end of games, so this will remain a big concern for me.

11). The complementary players on this football team continue to play a huge role in its success. On Sunday night you couldn't have had two bigger plays than the ones that Cole Beasley made in this game. Beasley's ability to run routes down after down and find space is a rare trait to have, although throughout his career this is nothing new to him. In my weekly film breakdowns there have been plenty of games where he has been open, but Romo or Weeden have taken the ball in [embeddedad0]another direction. What is special about Beasley is that he might have become frustrated and not worked as hard to get open, but that hasn't been the case at all. He has actually taken the opposite approach and run his routes like he was Dez Bryant and that he was going to get the ball every snap. It's that type of attitude that this team needs going forward.

12). I don't know about you, but I can watch Eli Manning throw red-zone interceptions all day.

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