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Tavern talk: Cowboys share the blame

Was failed TD Romo’s fault? Not entirely. Michael Lombardi

Print This October 06, 2009, 05:29 PM EST

FROM THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM...Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is getting a lot of criticism for throwing consecutive passes to fourth receiver Sam Hurd against Denver standout cornerback Champ Bailey on third and fourth down to end the game in Sunday's 17-10 loss.

Is it possible that Romo didn't know it was fourth down?

Following the final incomplete pass to end the Cowboys hopes, a video caught on KDFW Fox-4 shows Romo seemingly telling his linemen to line back up. He then flashes three fingers to one of the game officials.

After hearing the response, Romo screams and walks off field.

If true, Romo apparently forgot about the spike to stop the clock on second down.

When asked about the series of events, Coach Wade Phillips didn't know anything about a discrepancy. He said that on the sideline they knew what down it was and any questions would need to be directed at Romo.

That may not be until Wednesday or Thursday. Romo is not scheduled to talk to the media until then.

Is it me or does it seem like there’s always a conspiracy coming out of Dallas? To me, Tony Romo not knowing what down it was just doesn’t seem plausible (much like Oswald acting alone in the Kennedy assassination doesn’t seem plausible), but what does is the fact the Cowboys as a team failed to act and handle the pressure of the moment. This is all not on Romo; Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett and the whole team share the blame.

Speaking of Wade, how about this line: He said he didn't know anything about a discrepancy. According to the story, he said that “on the sideline they knew what down it was and any questions would need to be directed at Romo.” Wow, that’s throwing the quarterback under the bus.

Third quarter: 2-11-DEN 17 (12:49) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to R.Williams (D.Williams).

Timeout #1 by DAL at 12:45.

Mistake No. 1: They did not get the play in on time as this meaningless timeout early in the second half was another reason for the failures on the final drive.

Dallas Cowboys at 1:46 now. They have two timeouts and need a touchdown to tie.

1-10-DAL 20 (1:46) T.Romo pass short right to J.Witten to DAL 27 for 7 yards (D.Williams).

2-3-DAL 27 (1:23) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short right to M.Austin.

3-3-DAL 27 (1:20) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to P.Crayton (J.Williams).

4-3-DAL 27 (1:16) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to S.Hurd to DEN 20 for 53 yards (B.Dawkins). P19

Timeout #2 by DAL at 00:59.

Had to call this timeout. Plays are too important now, and with one in your back pocket, it’s important to be mindful of the clock. But keep in mind that the next timeout must be saved in the event of a sack.

1-10-DEN 20 (:59) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to T.Choice to DEN 13 for 7 yards (W.Woodyard).

2-3-DEN 13 (:35) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to S.Hurd pushed ob at DEN 8 for 5 yards (C.Bailey). P20

Timeout #3 by DAL at 00:27.

Really bad. Two plays burn off 32 seconds that are very precious. They’re now trapped and must throw the ball four times in the end zone. This mismanagement of the time is Mistake No. 2.

1-8-DEN 8 (:27) T.Romo pass short right to P.Crayton to DEN 2 for 6 yards (J.Williams).

HUGE, HUGE, HUGE MISTAKE, AND THE FOCUS OF THE GAME SHOULD BE CENTERED RIGHT HERE…Mistake No. 3. Romo has to know better than to throw a pass inbounds that results in just a two-yard gain. This throw can’t be made unless there’s a clear path to the end zone. A tackle in bounds is what the defense wants. A throw away here is much better.

2-2-DEN 2 (:09) T.Romo spiked the ball to stop the clock.

He had to, but again, look how much time is used for two yards? Why did it take so long to set back up? Twenty-two second to gain two yards is high schoolish. They waste time at moments like these too easily…

3-2-DEN 2 (:09) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to S.Hurd (C.Bailey).

The play comes from the bench. The Cowboys are in a two-by-two formation in which they have two wideouts to Romo’s left and a tight end and receiver to his right. Denver lines up in an all-out blitz, and Romo calls for the protection to slide to the left, which keeps Jason Witten in to block. This places Romo’s eye control to the right because he slides the line to the overload and doesn’t have enough blockers to handle the ones from right. All quarterbacks are taught to look at the unblocked man and throw before he arrives. So Miles Austin being open is not really significant since Romo was NEVER going to look left because of the protection. Had he slid the line to the right, he would have never gotten the ball off in time. Hurd doesn’t run a very good route, and Romo can’t hold the ball long because of the blitz. Bad route, bad call, bad result.

4-2-DEN 2 (:05) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to S.Hurd (C.Bailey).

See above. The Broncos call the same blitz and Dallas does the same thing over again. They do not change the play, the protection, the personnel group, the design. They just let it run. The theory that someone has to make a play…well, someone didn’t.

Winning football is a game of details, and the Cowboys didn’t cover all the details. Romo takes the heat, but there was more than one shooter to blame in Denver for sure.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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