Tony Romo and the Top 10 Dallas Cowboys Performances of 2011

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IIFebruary 20, 2012

Tony Romo and the Top 10 Dallas Cowboys Performances of 2011

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    The Dallas Cowboys saw some fine performances during the 2011 season. Several players put up outstanding ones.

    Tony Romo had his share of shining performances. Laurent Robinson gave the Cowboys difference-making receiving performances.

    Some performances by Cowboys players were game-breaking. Others simply served to keep the Cowboys in the game. Others yet were just helpful or impressive.

    Follow along to see which performances were the best and which one stands above them all.

10. DeMarcus Ware, Week 8 at Philadelphia Eagles

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    DeMarcus Ware had a productive night in a horrid defensive game for the Cowboys in this drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Ware picked up a career-high four sacks—two in the first half and two in the second half.

    Ware also made an impact outside of the pass-rush. He racked up 10 solo tackles. And he forced a fumble on a sack of Michael Vick.

    Ware was a bright spot on a rough night for the Cowboys, on which LeSean McCoy tore them up for 185 yards.

9. Tony Romo, Week 14 vs. New York Giants

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    Romo did a pretty good job in his duel with Eli Manning.

    He was efficient, completing more than two-thirds of his passes.

    After DeMarco Murray went down with an ankle injury and the defense showed signs of flagging, Romo had no problem putting the team on his back.

    He traded touchdowns with Manning and, with help from Dan Bailey, put the Cowboys ahead in the fourth quarter after trailing most of the game.

    Romo's touchdowns to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant put the Cowboys in the driver's seat with a 12-point lead.

    The lead would slip away, and Romo went into comeback mode. The final drive wasn't pretty. He hit Miles Austin on two hard strikes of more than 20 yards, although they were on the bookends of a play in which Romo was caught off-guard by the snap, catching it on his leg and having to toss it short to Felix Jones.

    The blocked field-goal attempt by Bailey was a letdown, but, in general, Romo's performance wasn't.

    His four touchdowns were the most he'd thrown in a couple years. Also, going 21-of-31 for 321 yards wasn't too shabby.

8. Mat McBriar, Week 13 at Arizona Cardinals

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    Mat McBriar didn't have his best season in 2011.

    Nevertheless, he did have one shining performance for the Cowboys last season.

    His solid directional punting gave the Cowboys defense a big helping hand against the Arizona Cardinals.

    McBriar nailed all five of his punts inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line.

    After the Cowboys' first drive of the game, McBriar punted it 35 yards, and Patrick Peterson took the fair catch at the Cardinals' 11-yard line.

    Just inside the two-minute mark in the opening frame, McBriar dropped a 25-yarder that was downed by Alex Albright at the 10-yard line of the Cardinals. Not bad for a 25-yarder.

    His lone second-quarter punt was a 50-yard shot that went out of bounds at the Cardinals 3-yard line.

    His fourth quarter performance was big. McBriar knocked his first punt of the period 42 yards to the Cardinals' 19-yard line. Patrick Peterson barely reached the 20-yard line before squirting out of bounds.

    Around the four-minute mark, McBriar sent one 39 yards, and Alan Ball downed it at the Cardinals' 5-yard line.

    That punt was made sweeter when the Cardinals went three-and-out in the ensuing drive.

    McBriar's net average that afternoon was only 38 yards per punt. That belies the fact that he pinned the Cardinals back well inside their own zone with each punt, along with the fact that rookie phenomenon Peterson only amassed one yard on punt returns.

7. Laurent Robinson, Week 10 vs. Buffalo Bills

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    Robinson caught Tony Romo's attention just enough against the Buffalo Bills to cause an outburst.

    He had only three catches, but they were all impactful.

    One was a first-down catch, and the other two were for touchdowns.

    His first touchdown catch, a five-yard out-route where he nabbed the ball in the corner of the end zone, came in the latter part of the first quarter. His second, a 58-yarder, put the Cowboys up 21-0.

    The music that Romo and Robinson made went a long way in putting the Bills away early.

6. Sean Lee, Week 6 vs. New England Patriots

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    Sean Lee carried a huge load against the New England Patriots.

    He led a Cowboys defensive effort that held the Patriots to 20 points and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to 58 rushing yards.

    Lee put up significant statistics that afternoon.

    He totaled 12 tackles, including six solo takedowns, along with two pass deflections.

    His fourth-quarter interception, made at the Cowboys 26-yard line, prevented the Patriots from taking the lead. On the ensuing Cowboys drive, Dan Bailey kicked a go-ahead field goal.

    If only the rest of the Cowboys defense had followed Lee's lead, the Cowboys could have kept the Patriots out of the end zone late in the game to win it for Dallas.

5. Laurent Robinson, Week 14 vs. New York Giants

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    Laurent Robinson was a major part of the track meet that occurred on December 11 at Cowboys Stadium.

    Robinson had the biggest game of his career and the biggest receiving performance of the Cowboys' season.

    He put up a career-high 137 yards on five catches. His two touchdown catches were for relatively short length.

    Robinson hauled in a 74-yard fourth-quarter catch that set up a five-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin, giving the Cowboys the lead.

    Robinson was all over the place that night, showing how beloved a target he had become for Tony Romo. Robinson's yardage represented 42.7 percent of Romo's passing yards.

    He had a high-impact game to say the least.

4. Dan Bailey, Week 3 vs. Washington Redskins

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    Bailey had about as good a start to his career as a rookie kicker could.

    Eight days after kicking the game-winning field goal against the San Francisco 49ers in overtime, Bailey put together the game of a lifetime against the Washington Redskins.

    He was perfect on six field-goal attempts to score all 18 Cowboys points.

    That includes notching the game-winning 40-yarder in the closing seconds.

    His five other field goals that Monday night were from 41, 27, 32, 41 and 23 yards out.

3. Tony Romo, Week 10 vs. Buffalo Bills

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    Tony Romo put in solid work early to put the Bills away early in the game.

    Romo completed his first 14 passes.

    All three of his touchdown passes came in the first half as he led the Cowboys to a 21-0 lead within 18 minutes of play.

    Romo was incredibly accurate all game. He threw one incomplete pass in the first half and two in the second half.

    For the game, Romo completed a career-best 88 percent of his passes (23-of-26). His passer rating for the game was 148.1 and he threw for 270 yards.

    Romo's efficiency and deadly throws were key to Dallas' most lopsided victory in 11 years.

2. DeMarco Murray, Week 7 at St. Louis Rams

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    Against the lightweight St. Louis Rams, DeMarco Murray gave the first rushing performance that took pressure off Tony Romo.

    Murray broke out for a Cowboys-record 253 yards on 20 carries. Emmitt Smith never broke 250 yards in a game, not in his rookie year, nor any other.

    In the first quarter, Murray shot the Cowboys out to the lead with a 91-yard touchdown run, the second-longest run in team history.

    The Cowboys' victory against the Rams was the first game of the season in which the Cowboys had more rushing attempts than passing attempts.

    Cowboys fans had to wonder where the burn in Murray had been before that.

    Impressively, Murray would keep it up for the next few games, totaling 701 yards in a four-game span.

1. Tony Romo, Week 2 at San Francisco 49ers

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    Tony Romo's performance against the San Francisco 49ers was the stuff of legends.

    He was knocked out on the third play of the game with a broken rib (later, he would be revealed to have a punctured lung as well).

    Romo came back in the third quarter.

    He started off slow, completing only nine of his first 19 pass attempts for 150 yards.

    Soon enough, he kicked off the dust and went wild. Romo connected on 11 of his last 14 passes for 193 yards,

    He hit Miles Austin for a 25-yard touchdown pass and set up the tying Dan Bailey field goal as he brought the Cowboys back from a 10-point deficit to force overtime.

    He only needed one throw in overtime to seal the deal. Romo connected with Jesse Holley on a 77-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal by Bailey.

    That day, Romo gave one of the greatest pieces of heroics seen by anyone in a Cowboys uniform. Anyone who questioned Romo's character needed to find someone else to debase after that game.