Super Bowl 2012: 5 Plays Dallas Cowboys Players Should Have Seen
The game featured numerous exciting plays, including a couple of beautiful scoring plays and some fantastic defensive displays. Some of these plays were awe-inspiring, while other plays gave viewers pause.
With many Dallas Cowboys players surely watching the Super Bowl, they likely found some plays that could provide inspiration, as well as some that could provide opportunities to learn. Some Cowboys players might have watched the game more closely than others, and might have been motivated to work out performance kinks after the game.
As Cowboys players move along to work on their playing issues, they should keep in mind certain plays from the Super Bowl that provide good learning opportunities.
The following, are a few Super Bowl plays that provide good learning opportunities for particular Cowboys players.
Tom Brady's Intentional Grounding Safety
With nine minutes left in the first quarter, Tom Brady dropped back to pass on the first play of the drive.
With Justin Tuck coming on to hit him, Brady launched it deep downfield. The ball fell at midfield, at least 10 yards ahead of any player. The officials called Brady for intentional grounding and resulted in a safety.
Thus, Brady handed the Giants the first two points of the game.
Brady didn't seem acutely aware of where he was throwing the ball. Surely, he made a few reads before Tuck came to hit him. However, his throw didn't seem be directed at a particular receiver of his.
This is an important lesson for Tony Romo.
Romo must always be aware of where his receivers are. While Romo passed the ball safely and accurately in 2011, he occasionally led receivers a little too much. Rarely did he show a lack of awareness regarding his receivers.
A few times he threw checkdown passes that led the receiver into a defender, but those weren't as costly as Brady's intentional grounding penalties.
The safety also shows the lesson that care with passing is especially important when passing out of one's own end zone.
Tom Brady's Touchdown Pass to Danny Woodhead
In the second quarter, the Patriots were deep in Giants territory, looking to score before the end of the half. Brady sat back in the pocket for several seconds, waiting for the read he wanted. Eventually, he dropped it in to Danny Woodhead for the touchdown.
That play was successful partly because of Brady's patience in waiting for the play to develop, and partly because of the steely front the Patriots offensive line created. The Patriots linemen held strong the whole time, securing their men in a solid line.
That allowed Brady the time to wait and the space to move to make a play.
For Tony Romo, patience and ability to move in the pocket aren't problematic.
What is problematic for the Cowboys is the offensive line's ability to keep their men in front of them. Often, tackles deflect rushers, hoping they don't come back around to Romo. Interior linemen often struggle to keep guys in front of them as they try to give Romo a passing lane.
Sometimes, Phil Costa and the other guards are unable to keep the frontal attack at bay. Also, the guards periodically struggle to maintain the passing windows.
Part of the solution lies in staying tough and keeping rushers in front of them.
Also, Romo and the interior linemen need to communicate about how passing windows are to be supported since he primarily passes through those windows.
Justin Tuck Fourth Quarter Sack
On third down, with less than a minute left in the game, Tom Brady dropped back to pass. He was swarmed by the Giants pass rush. Justin Tuck came hard up the middle and put an initial hit on Brady, but Brady resisted.
Then, with a little push from behind from Osi Umenyiora, Tuck managed to bring Brady down for his second sack of the game.
Tuck might have been able to bring Brady down on his own, but teamwork made the play complete. Tuck brought the rush up front. He had plenty of steam to take Brady down, but Brady had a move in him. Umenyiora worked from behind and was able to help Tuck get the sack.
This is an important lesson for DeMarcus Ware and other Cowboys pass rushers. Ware needs to recognize that while he's the top pass rusher for the Cowboys, and one of the best in the NFL, he needs help from his teammates.
Ware can't bring down the quarterback by himself every time. Picking up 46.4 percent of Cowboys sacks is a heavy load.
Conversely, other Cowboys pass rushers need to be willing to help out on every pass play.
They need to match Ware's aggression. Also, they need to be willing to collaborate on plays to bring down quarterbacks.
Chase Blackburn's Interception
Chase Blackburn made a big play early in the fourth quarter to assist the Giants comeback. He stayed in step with Rob Gronkowski going down the field. Brady threw it to Gronkowski, and Blackburn and Gronkowski went up for the jump ball.
Blackburn won it and had an interception.
Blackburn did everything right on that play. He stayed in stride with Gronkowski. When the ball headed their way, Blackburn turned at the right time. He was inside on Gronkowski and had his hands in the right place to get the ball.
This is an important lesson for Terence Newman, who may face the same insecurity with his job this offseason that Blackburn faced this season.
Newman does a decent job at keeping up with receivers. However, he doesn't get good positioning when the ball arrives or turn at the right time. Newman would be able to make better plays on balls if he turned with better timing.
Also, better positioning makes for better plays.
If Newman keeps those things in mind, he could sustain his Cowboys career.
Eli Manning's Pass to Mario Manningham to Start the Go-Ahead Drive
With about 3:40 left in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning dropped back on first down with the Giants deep in their own territory.
Manning launched it deep downfield to Mario Manningham, who caught it near midfield.
Eli had made a courageous pass on the first play of the comeback drive. He stretched the field and put the Patriots defense on its toes.
Tony Romo might do well to try and learn from what Manning did.
Often, Romo plays conservatively on comeback drives. He'll toss a bubble screen pass or go for the underneath target. Other times, Romo will go for sound intermediate out routes. Rarely does he ever sling it deep downfield to try and advance an important drive.
A good, deep pass can help advance a drive, whereas picking up the yardage in chunks isn't always effective.