Over the last two weeks, Tony Romo has played great football. He has been on target, mistake-free and has been a touchdown machine.
Saturday was no different as he had one of the best halves of his career. He was finding all of his receivers, scoring touchdowns and keeping the momentum going. The reason that the previous two games ended up in crushing defeat was the lackluster and sometimes pitiful defensive play from the Rob Ryan defense.
The pass-rush was non-existent, the secondary was anything but stable, and Ryan’s play-calling was suspect. A meager Arizona offense pushed the ball down the field repeatedly, and an experienced Eli Manning shredded the defense during a 15-point stretch in the last minutes of last week’s crushing defeat.
The big difference versus Tampa Bay was the defensive intensity and effectiveness. Regardless of a weak Buccaneer offensive line, the Dallas defense played aggressive, made a handful of key third down stops and efficiently ruled the momentum the entire game. This game was meant to be won, but the convincing nature of the defensive performance is why Dallas should be happy with this win.
There is no doubt that Romo’s four touchdowns continue to drive this team, but the offense has not been the problem of late. Saturday, the defense showed up big and got the win. Regardless of who is playing offense, for a defense to allow only eight points is remarkable. The key play early on was Anthony Spencer’s strip on Josh Freeman on the Buccaneer opening drive. This gave Romo a short field and a boost of confidence to a struggling Dallas defensive unit.
The most important effect of Romo’s quick offensive start during Saturday’s game was it allowed a banged up Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware to take it easy in the second half. With a pair of brutally physical games coming up the next two weeks, Dallas needs its best playmakers at full capacity.
The bigger concern now is the health status of this defense, and primarily these two players who arguably are the most reliable on the team. For one night at least, Rob Ryan formed a strong game plan and watched his defense perform well. Look for the defense to continue this momentum and carry it into next week’s game when Philly makes a visit to Dallas.