Breaking down Tony Romo’s five best plays of the 2013 season

Tony Romo was the face of the Cowboys during yet another 8-8 campaign. On a team that lost as many games as it won, the quarterback had his share of good moments and a number of bad ones as well. Here’s a look back at his five best plays:
5. Sept. 22: Tony Romo TD Pass to Dwayne Harris in Cowboys’ 31-7 victory over St. Louis
What the scenario was: The Cowboys were leading by 17 points, and it was first-and-10 at the St. Louis 24-yard line with 12:02 left in the fourth quarter.
What happened: The Cowboys came out in 11 personnel, while the Rams had five defenders crowded near the line of scrimmage.
Romo faked a handoff to DeMarco Murray, and then surveyed his options in quick fashion. The play-action maneuver sucked in free safety T.J. McDonald before he retreated to cover receiver Dwayne Harris, who was running a vertical route just inside the numbers.
The beauty of this play was Romo’s decision to throw the ball when Harris really wasn’t open.
At the time Romo unleashed the pass, Harris was running side-by-side with McDonald. Harris beat McDonald, creating enough separation to catch the pass deep in the end zone. McDonald was in good position to deflect the ball but the throw was dang near perfect, zipping over McDonald’s left shoulder and into Harris’ hands.
What it meant: It put the finishing touches on a scintillating performance by the Cowboys. The 24-yard touchdown pass provided Dallas with a 24-point margin of victory — by far their largest of the season.

4. Nov. 3: Tony Romo TD Pass to Dwayne Harris in 27-23 victory over Minnesota
What the scenario was: The Cowboys were trailing 23-20 to Minnesota with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and it was second-and-goal from the Vikings seven-yard line.
What happened: This was the final play of a 90-yard drive during which Tony Romo threw the ball nine times. Before the snap, the Cowboys rolled out an empty package with Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley bunched together on the left side. Dwayne Harris and Terrance Williams, meanwhile, were lined up to the right of Romo. The Vikings were in a nickel defense.
When the ball was snapped, Romo appeared to be looking for Jason Witten. But the tight end was blanketed by both linebacker Erin Henderson (No. 50) and safety Mistral Raymond.
To buy time, Romo found an alley in the pocket and stepped up, moving close to the line of the scrimmage to deliver a pass to Harris, who was in the same vicinity as Witten.
In his pattern, Harris ran horizontally after making a sharp cut inwards at the three-yard line while being covered by cornerback Marcus Sherels. Romo fired the short pass to Harris, who lunged toward the end zone and across the goal line before Sherels and linebacker Chad Greenway could stop him.
What it meant: This was the 19th fourth-quarter comeback Romo authored in his career. And it was a big one. If the Cowboys had lost to the 1-6 Vikings, the natives would have turned extremely restless and head coach Jason Garrett’s seat would have been scalding. But Romo saved the day and provided temporary peace in the Cowboys universe. Of course, the following week the Cowboys were crushed by the New Orleans Saints and the fan base was inflamed again.

3. Oct. 6: Tony Romo TD Pass to Terrance Williams in 51-48 loss to Denver
What the scenario was: The Cowboys trailed 35-20, and it was second-and-nine at the Dallas 18-yard line with 7:39 left in the third quarter.
What happened:  For much of the off-season, the Cowboys trumpeted the benefits of 12 personnel. The team’s brass proclaimed that Dallas intended to attack teams with a package featuring one running back and two tight ends. But rarely did the Cowboys’ vision materialize. On this occasion it did. Sort of.
The Cowboys lined up with two tight ends – James Hanna and Jason Witten. DeMarco Murray, meanwhile, was in the backfield. Technically, they were in 12 personnel.
But Cowboys used a little trompe l’oeil to disguise their look, as the formation used in this instance mimicked the ones typically unveiled in the ”11″ packages they have run.
Witten, after all, was lined up in the slot on the left side along with Terrance Williams who was outside. Not surprisingly, to combat this formation, the Broncos were in nickel.
After the ball was snapped, the deep safety on the left side, Rahim Moore, was lured into covering tight end James Hanna, who ran a short route in the flat at the 21-yard line.
That left cornerback Tony Carter alone to guard Terrance Williams, who was running a deep post pattern. This was a schematic victory for the Cowboys.
Romo, initially looked right, swiveled his head to the far left and then back toward the middle of the field, where he saw that Williams had beat Carter downfield.
He unleashed a pass that hit Williams in stride at the Denver 42-yard line. Carter, who lost position, made an attempt to break up the pass.
But in doing so he allowed Williams to break free once he made the catch. Williams coasted to the end zone to complete the 82-yard touchdown play.
What it meant: This was Romo’s most highlight-worthy completion during his best performance of the season. On this day, Romo threw for 506 yards. If not for a back-breaking interception that led to Denver’s winning field goal as time expired, Romo would have been hailed for outplaying Peyton Manning. The deep pass to Williams also allayed fears that Romo had lost the requisite arm strength to complete those kinds of throws. But as it turned out, for the rest of the season Romo never did play as well as he did that afternoon. And his struggles completing downfield passes resurfaced.

2. Nov. 24: Tony Romo third-down pass to Cole Beasley in 24-21 victory over New York Giants
What the scenario was: The Cowboys and New York Giants were tied at 21. It was 3rd-and-10 at the Giants’ 28-yard line with 1:25 left in regulation.
What happened: The Cowboys were lined up in an empty set and the Giants in a nickel package.
From the moment the ball was snapped, Tony Romo looked left towards Beasley. Romo’s eyes did nothing to help the diminutive receiver get open.
But the design of the play did. Dez Bryant, who was paired with Beasley on the left side, ran a vertical route. Aware of the threat that Bryant posed, Giants safety Ryan Mundy retreated before realizing that Romo was throwing underneath to Beasley. Valuable seconds were lost for Mundy because he was slow to react. As Beasley made his break toward the sideline, safety Antrel Rolle, who was covering Beasley, lost his footing and fell to the turf at the Giants’ 18-yard line.
No one was near Beasley when he made the catch about three yards short of the first-down marker. Beasley turned up field and picked up the first down as three Giants defenders converged before tackling him at the 15.
What it meant: This was a huge play at the time it was made. It came immediately after a controversial ruling in which the officials determined that an apparent first-down catch made by Bryant was actually an incomplete pass. Romo was able to shake off the disappointment of that outcome and refocus in time to connect with Beasley. Beasley’s catch allowed the Cowboys to burn time off the clock before setting up an easy field goal for Dan Bailey in freezing temperatures. After Romo kneeled twice, Bailey converted the 35-yard attempt on the game’s final play and sank the Giants in the process.

1. Dec. 22:  Tony Romo TD pass to DeMarco Murray in 24-23 victory over Washington
What the scenario was: It was fourth-and-goal at the Washington 10-yard line, and the Cowboys were trailing, 23-17 with 1:16 left in regulation. DeMarco Murray had just been smothered for a nine-yard loss that put the Cowboys’ season on the brink.
What happened: In 2013, the Cowboys’ most successful plays were derived from its“11” personnel grouping. So with the season on the line, it was no surprise that the Cowboys went with this package. From outside-in, Terrance Williams, Miles Austin and Jason Witten were lined up to Tony Romo’s left. Dez Bryant was split out wide on the right side. The Redskins played off the Cowboys receivers, with four defenders lined across the field at the three-yard line and two safeties lurking above them in the end zone.
As Romo dropped back, he looked left, where the majority of his targets had made their way to the end zone. But the coverage was thick.
When the pocket began to buckle, Romo bailed, starting to run forward after he retreated all the way back to the 20-yard line. As Romo moved back toward the line of scrimmage, he unleashed a pass at the 15-yard line.
Running back DeMarco Murray, who had drifted toward the end zone uncovered with his back facing the sideline, was the target. While spying Romo, linebacker Perry Riley Jr. was late to cover Murray as he caught the ball at the two-yard line before turning his body toward the end zone pylon.
Murray crashed across the goal line, and cornerback DeAngelo Hall arrived late to hit him.
A raucous celebration ensued.
What it meant: Murray’s 10-yard touchdown reception provided the Cowboys with a 24-23 victory and preserved the team’s playoff chances. One week later, the Eagles finished Dallas off at AT&T Stadium. But Romo didn’t play in that do-or-die finale. As it turned out, the touchdown pass to Murray was the final play of the season in which Romo was involved. He would undergo back surgery less than a week later to repair a herniated disk he suffered in the victory over the Redskins.
Breaking down Tony Romo’s five best plays of the 2013 season Breaking down Tony Romo’s five best plays of the 2013 season Reviewed by Mr. DCStands4 on 10:30:00 AM Rating: 5

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