IRVING, Texas --As Rob Ryan looks to improve the defense this offseason, one specific area will be two-minute situations. Two glaring examples were two losses to this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks: Oct. 16 at New England and Dec. 11 against the Giants.
Both times, quarterback Tony Romo left the field with a lead.
Oct. 25: Trailing 16-13 with 2:31 remaining, Tom Brady calmly completed 7 of 8 passes for 78 yards (plus a 2-yard sneak for a critical third-down conversion) and hit tight end Aaron Hernandez for the deciding 8-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left.
Dec. 11: Trailing 34-29 with 2:12 remaining, Eli Manning drove the Giants 58 yards in six plays for Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion regained a three-point lead for New York, and Dan Bailey's potential tying field goal was blocked on the final play.
"Two-minute situations have been our Achilles' heel all year," Ryan said the following week. "We can look at anything else. That's the facts. That's on me."
Ryan took steps to fix things for the next game, including use of hand signals for smoother communication, and the defense played better against lowly Tampa Bay. After falling behind 28-0 in the first half, though, the Bucs found success moving the ball in the second half with a similar hurry-up type offense.
Ryan will point to two-minute situations as a major improvement area this offseason. For proof, look no further than the two teams playing this Sunday.