It's the score everyone's talking about: Denver 51, Dallas 48. So many points, with "America's" Team falling just short of an upset over the unbeaten, red-hot Broncos.
That's the game everyone's talking about. Here's the play everyone's talking about:
Let's break down Romo's costly error.
Following a Shaun Phillips sack, Romo and the Cowboys face a 2nd-and-16 from their own 14-yard line with 2:04 on the clock. They're in "12 personnel," with tight end Jason Witten lined up right and tight end Gavin Escobar playing inside of wide receivers Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant to the left. Romo is in the shotgun with running back DeMarco Murray flanked right.
The Broncos are essentially in a prevent defense with seven defensive backs and only one linebacker. They aren't showing anything resembling a blitz on what is sure to be a passing down. Here's a look at the routes Dallas would run on the play:
At the bottom of the picture, Witten is pretty much a non-factor against that coverage from Duke Ihenacho and Tony Carter. The only decent matchup at the outset is the athletic Escobar vs. linebacker Trevathan, who is less than 100-percent due to a knee injury:
Another problem is that Escobar's route isn't very crisp.
"I probably should’ve flattened it off more, be more friendly to the quarterback," the rookie admitted after the game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "…When I saw it coming out, I was trying to break it up. It was a seam route. I was trying to get over to the other side. I should’ve flattened it off more."
Plus, the pocket is now collapsing on Romo, which is unfortunate considering it's only been about 2.3 seconds since the snap, and Denver only utilized a three-man rush. If he had an extra half-second, he might have kept going through his progressions and noticed how much space Murray gained underneath:
The red line is where Romo threw it. The black line is the ideal path the ball should have taken:
It had to be perfect.
“I wanted to put it another two feet out in front,” said Romo, per ESPN, “and I didn’t put it exactly where I needed to. It’s frustrating and disappointing.”
Ultimately, a lot of small factors contributed to the turnover, but Romo deserves the majority of the blame. Pressure happens, and you don't always get to follow through flawlessly. He took a chance, and it backfired.
I think he was just filled with confidence based on a red-hot performance and thought he could squeeze in one more big throw. Even if he had led Escobar by throwing it a yard ahead and with some extra zip, keep in mind that Moore was there, either to break up the pass or make the tackle.
The risk wasn't worth the reward.
"He certainly would like to have that decision back, but you've got to move forward," added Garrett. "You've got to learn from it."