Dallas Cowboys: Breaking Down What Is Wrong with Tony Romo
On the surface, Romo did almost everything correctly.
He was 25-for-36, threw for 261 yards, tossed two touchdowns and had a 97.1 passer rating. Romo even led his team on an epic 18-play touchdown scoring drive with 4:41 to play, when his team needed a score in the worst way.
On the drive, Romo was 11-of-16 for 94 yards, and marched his team down the field with a poise that’s only displayed by the game’s greats.
Dez Bryant did drop the two-point conversion that would have tied the game, but that wasn't on Romo.
So, what exactly did Romo do wrong?
The answer isn't exactly cut-and-dry. But, the mistakes he made were issues that have recurred throughout Romo's career, and have cost his team in the past as they did on Sunday.
It's no secret that Romo is a high-risk, high-reward quarterback, but at times his gunslinger mentality has gotten the better of him.
Never was this more evident than in Week 4 against the Bears when Romo tossed five interceptions, en route to an embarrassing Monday Night Football result.
However, Romo was much better against the Ravens.
He was accurate for the majority of the contest and limited himself to only one interception. But, turnovers are costly things, and the pick he threw ended up being a huge factor in the contest.
With 2:27 remaining in the first half, the Cowboys were driving and on the Ravens 35-yard line in a 10-10 game. They were only a few yards out of field-goal range, and could have snatched a lead from Baltimore before the two-minute warning.
But, then the gunslinger in Romo showed itself.
The Ravens flushed Romo out of the pocket to the right side, and instead of throwing the ball away, Romo heaved the ball across the field to Kevin Ogletree, who was running a deep crossing pattern. The throw was a few inches out of the reach of Ogletree and sailed past him, right into the hands of the waiting Ravens safety.
It was a momentum-swinging play. The Ravens went on to score on the ensuing drive, and entered the half with a 17-10 lead.
Without the pick, Dallas could have added three points that would have come in handy in a two-point game. And even if the Cowboys chose not to attempt a field goal, they could have pinned the Ravens deep in their territory with a good punt.
That interception is the kind of play that has killed Dallas in Romo’s tenure, and the picks have been a big reason for Dallas' lack of playoff success.
Actually, teams have intercepted Romo in six straight games and have scored on the subsequent drives in each of those contests.
Turnovers decide games in the NFL and Romo must find a way to curb the issue, otherwise Dallas will continue to come up short in close contests.
Almost miraculously, the Cowboys had a second opportunity to win the game after recovering an onside kick and being on the positive end of a pass interference call.
The flag put Dallas on the Ravens' 35-yard line, and with 26 seconds left and a timeout, the Cowboys should have had time to run a few plays and better their field-goal position.
However, in a questionable move, Romo decided to throw a short slant over the middle to Bryant that went for no gain.
At that point the clock was ticking, and by the time the Cowboys called a timeout, 15 valuable seconds had drained from the clock.
Some of the blame for this goes to the coaching staff, but the majority should be on the shoulders of Romo.
He was the guy responsible for getting his team to the line. He had the power to adjust the play call at the line for his throw to Bryant. He should have been in his teammates' ears before to ensure they knew how urgent the situation was.
However, none of those things happened.
The seconds ticked off the clock and the Dallas players just loafed to the line. It was on Romo to make sure they were fully aware of the situation, and in this case they just weren't.
That lack of urgency cost Dallas valuable field position, and forced Dan Bailey to attempt a 51-yard field goal—which would have tied a career long.
Romo has to be the leader in these situations.
As the quarterback, it's his responsibility to make sure his team knows the situation and is ready for it in the huddle.
They didn't on Sunday and it cost the team the game, and it will continue to if Romo doesn't make game management a priority.
Doing too much
It's hard to fault Romo for this on Sunday.
It didn't happen often. Really, there were only one or two examples, the most obvious being the second-quarter interception.
But, those are the kind of plays that have led to the most pointed criticism of Romo throughout his career, and most of it has been justified.
Will Tony Romo ever fix the issues that have plagued him throughout his career?
There are times in which he gets a hero's mentality and attempts to make throws that mere mortals aren't capable of. And most of the time it leads to interceptions and those picks equal losses. (See Lions, Jets and first Giants game from last year.)
He does too much on throws, on his adjustments at the line and even on his scrambles in the pocket when he should just throw the ball away.
Romo just needs to slow his game down and eliminate the need to always make the huge play.
When he does that, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and ultimately makes Dallas one of the best teams.
But if Romo continues to make these same mistakes, the Cowboys will only flounder as an average team.
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