IRVING, Texas - Some thoughts from the film room at Valley Ranch:
When Great Wasn't Enough
As outstanding as Peyton Manning played, Tony Romo was better and that is saying a lot. I understand that football is a team game, but for the Dallas Cowboys to win, their best chance was on the right arm of Romo and the hands of his skill guys. I have been in this league long enough to understand the direction that this game was going for the Cowboys offense and anything but throwing the ball, was a wasted play.
Romo was not only physically able to hurt the Broncos, but I thought mentally he was outstanding as well. One of Romo's most underrated traits, is his ability to keep his eyes down the field as the play develops. There were several examples of this in the game. Pressure in the pocket causes him to have to move to his left but keeping his eyes down the field, he is able to find Witten moving from his right to left, to make a 3rd down connection. Right before the half, Romo again is forced to his left to buy a second chance, finds Terrance Williams along the right sideline to put Dan Bailey in field goal range.
In taking a look at his only mistake of the day, Callahan sends "12" personnel in the game with Terrance Williams split wide left, Dez Bryant slot left and Gavin Escobar inside of Bryant. On the play, Del Rio rushes three and drops eight. Linebacker Danny Trevathan takes two steps to his right to pick up Escobar coming across the field and manages to hold him up right at the line. Romo has his eyes on the rookie the whole way.
In front of Romo, Travis Frederick gets beat to his right shoulder by nose man, Mitch Unrein. DeMarco Murray has worked through the line and is now checked down to Romo's left. Romo still is looking at Escobar coming across the field. Tyron Smith's right foot connects with Romo's left foot as he strides forward. There is a hole to the right for Romo to slide but he is committed to going forward. As Romo is delivering the ball, Ronald Leary crosses the front of the pocket to pick up Unrein. There is contact right in front of Romo with Leary and Unrein which doesn't allow Romo to get everything he wants on the ball.
Escobar has a step on Trevathan but he starts to work his way up the field instead of across the field. Trevathan is able to undercut the route and make the diving interception and set the Broncos up in field goal range to win the game. It was a bitter pill for Tony Romo and his teammates to swallow, because he and this offense played well enough to win this game, it's just a shame that the only play that everyone seems to remember is the last one.
A Rookie's Big Play
With the Cowboys trailing 35 – 20 with 7:38 left in the 3rd quarter, with the ball on their own 19. Terrance Williams lines up wide left to the outside of Jason Witten. Broncos cornerback Tony Carter is matched up one-on-one with Williams with no safety help in the middle of the field because Duke Ihenacho works to his left to help with Dez Bryant who is on the far right side of the field.
At the snap, Romo reads the coverage down the field and knows that he has Williams on the outside on the deep post. Williams does an outstanding job of running outside of Carter which causes him to widen on the play, leaving the middle of the field open. On his break to the inside, Romo still holding the ball has solid protection in front of him, slides a little to his left and lets the ball fly down the field. Williams is now in a foot race with Carter heads for the middle of the field.
Williams has to slow up just a tick to wait on the ball but he maintains his position on Carter. The ball is put in the perfect spot as Carter waves at it. Williams is able to cradle it against his body and streak into the end zone for a touchdown, that brought his team back into the game 35 – 28. It was the type of play that Williams needed to make after what happened to him last week in San Diego with the fumble. This was a nice bounce game for him and something he can build on going forward.