Breaking down Tony Romo’s five worst 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 worst plays:
5. Nov. 10, Tony Romo’s incomplete pass to Cole Beasley in 49-17 loss to New Orleans
What the scenario was: The Cowboys, facing a third-and-two situation at their own 28-yard line, were trailing 21-10 with 1:04 left in second quarter.
What happened: Considering the down, distance and the time in the game, this play was ill-conceived. Only needing to make two yards, the Cowboys lined with no running back. The Cowboys all but declared that they were going to pass the ball.
On the previous play, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan dialed up a dime package.
The Cowboys were in hurry-up mode and Romo threw a pass to Terrance Williams over the middle that was batted down by Corey White. Considering the clock had stopped and Dallas knew Ryan, the ex-Cowboys coordinator, had issues with substitutions, it would have been sensible to change personnel and roll out a different formation so the Saints would have to adjust. But they didn’t, choosing only to flip the receivers from one side to the other. Terrance Williams and Dwayne Harris were paired on one side. Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley were on the other. So Ryan kept the same set of players on the field. As Romo dropped back, Beasley ran a slant over the middle and beat White to the inside.
But the pass was clearly behind him, allowing White to bat it way. The concept of this play was poor. So was the execution. Not surprisingly it didn’t work.
What it meant: The incompletion stopped the clock and forced the Cowboys to punt. New Orleans retrieved the ball at its own 25-yard line with 53 seconds left in the half. The Saints quickly marched down the field before Drew Brees connected with Darren Sproles on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left. Just like that, the Saints’ lead ballooned to 18 points before halftime. For Romo, the failed pass to Beasley encapsulated his night. He completed only 10 of 24 attempts for 128 yards and a touchdown as the Saints crushed the Cowboys.

4. Sept. 15: Tony Romo’s incomplete pass to Jason Witten in 17-16 loss to Kansas City
What the scenario was: The Cowboys were trailing 17-13 with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter, and it was third-and 10 at the Kansas City 35-yard line.
What happened: This play capped one of the worst offensive sequences this season. Romo had thrown incomplete passes on the two previous downs, the second of which was intended for Miles Austin and thrown well wide of the target. At this point Romo seemed out of rhythm and rattled by the pressure that Kansas City’s front was applying. With the Cowboys in 11 personnel, the Chiefs crowded six defenders near the line of scrimmage.
After the ball was snapped, Austin, the slot receiver, veered inwards right into the path of running back DeMarco Murray, who had spilled out of the backfield between the hashmarks.
With two safeties – Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah – blitzing him from his left side, Romo didn’t have much time to survey his options.
Seeing that Austin was entering a crowded area, Romo unloaded the ball to tight end Jason Witten, who had just made his break to the flat. Safety Kendrick Lewis was bearing down on Witten when the poor-thrown ball was delivered low and wide. The Pro Bowl tight end made an attempt to catch the pass but it was beyond his reach.
Even if it was on target, Witten would have been stopped about seven yards short of the first-down marker. This play never really had a chance to be successful. And it wasn’t.
What it meant: On the very next play, the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey connected on a 53-yard field goal. But Dallas still trailed by a point. Head coach Jason Garrett thought at the time the Cowboys would have a chance to get the ball back and mount a game-winning drive. But the Chiefs pounded away at Dallas’ defense with running back Jamaal Charles as minutes drained off the clock. The Cowboys did regain possession. But by the time they did, 16 seconds were left in regulation and Dallas was on its four-yard line.
3. Oct. 6: Tony Romo’s interception in  51-48 loss to Denver
What the scenario was: The Cowboys and Broncos were deadlocked in a 48-48 tie, and Dallas was facing a second-and-16 situation at its own 14-yard line with 2:31 left in regulation.
What happened: In one of the most entertaining games of the NFL season, Tony Romo was playing at his best. He had thrown for 506 yards and skewered Denver’s defense while throwing five touchdowns passes. With less than three minutes remaining in a game that was tied, Romo had a chance to complete a heroic effort. But the drive opened with a sack for a six-yard loss. That set up this play. The Cowboys lined up in 12 personnel. Tight ends Gavin Escobar and Jason Witten were split out and positioned on opposite sides. Witten was alone to the right of Romo. Outside of Escobar were receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. The Broncos rolled out a dime package with three down linemen and linebacker Danny Trevathan lurking behind them.
After the snap, the Broncos’ Aldrick Robinson pushed Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith back into the pocket.
Soon after Escobar made his cut inside on a crossing route, Smith, trying to ward off Robinson, stepped on Romo’s foot as he was unloading the ball.
With Romo off balance, he delivered an inaccurate pass that the 6-6 Escobar had to reach down to grab. Because there wasn’t much power behind the throw, Trevathan was able to dive in front of Escobar to make an acrobatic interception.
What it meant: This was a devastating turnover. The Broncos took possession of the ball at Dallas’ 24-yard line with 1:57 left in regulation. Denver ran time off the clock before Matt Prater kicked a 28-yard game-winning field goal on the final play. After the loss, many wondered how Romo would handle the setback. While he didn’t go to tatters, his performance tailed off considerably. In the next five games he completed 57 percent of his 183 attempts, throwing for 1,158 yards, eight touchdown passes and five interceptions. His quarterback rating, based off those stats, was 79. The Cowboys’ offense, not surprisingly, reflected Romo’s inconsistency over that stretch.

2. Dec: 15: Tony Romo’s first interception in 37-36 loss to Green Bay
What the scenario was: The Cowboys were clinging to a 36-31 lead with 2:58 left in regulation. It was second-and-six from the Dallas 35-yard line.
What happened: This was the most-discussed play of the season. The Cowboys were lined up in 12 personnel. Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar were bunched on the right side, with the rookie tight end just off the line of scrimmage. Next to them was receiver Terrance Williams. On the opposite side, Miles Austin was alone. This was a packaged play – a designed run with a pass option attached to it. If the Packers stacked the box to bottle up DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo had the liberty to check out of that call and dial up the pass play. Romo made that choice when he saw that the Packers were in a Cover 0 with no deep safeties and eight defenders in the box.
Romo’s decision wasn’t necessarily a bad one if this play happened in a vacuum. But it didn’t. Green Bay was in the process of staging an historic comeback and the Cowboys were helping their cause by not running the ball.
In this instance, everything unraveled because there was no one there to block outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who was attacking Romo’s blindside.
Remember that both Escobar and Witten were lined up to the right of Romo. Romo was able to spin away from Matthews, and by that time Austin had separated himself from cornerback Sam Shields while running a slant pattern. Yet as he gathered himself to deliver the ball, Romo didn’t set his feet, throwing while his momentum carried him back and to his left.
The pass, not surprisingly, was behind Austin, allowing Shields to cover the ground he lost and make a leaping interception.
What it meant: Disaster. Absolute disaster. The Packers, who trailed by 23 points at halftime, took control of the ball at the 50-yard line. They then marched down the field in quick fashion, scoring what would be the winning touchdown to complete a remarkable comeback. For the next week, this play was the talk of the town. Head coach Jason Garrett said Romo should have just stuck with the run call. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan took the blame, explaining he should have never given Romo the option to throw the ball in that situation. This was the play that perfectly captured the dysfunction within the Cowboys’ offense this past season.
1. Dec. 22: Tony Romo’s back injury in 24-23 victory over Washington
What the scenario was: The Cowboys were trailing Washington 23-14 with 12:25 left in the fourth quarter. Dallas faced a third-and-one situation at its own 48-yard line.
What happened: The beginning of the end for Tony Romo started with a bunch formation in 12 personnel. Miles Austin and tight end Gavin Escobar were lined up on the right side with Jason Witten positioned well behind the line of scrimmage in the backfield. Dez Bryant was split out to the left of Romo. The Redskins had five defensive backs on the field.
As Romo dropped back, Washington linebacker Rob Jackson attacked Romo’s blindside. He used a spin move to get around Tyron Smith and sneak through a wide gap between the Cowboys left tackle and guard Rod Leary.
Romo, who was initially looking right, then redirected his eyes towards Austin, who was in traffic over the middle. A split-second later, Jackson was on top of Romo and clipped his right leg as the linebacker lunged to tackle him.
Romo stumbled, with his sock pulled down, and he braced himself with his left arm as he regained his balance.
By then, Austin was in space on the left side of the field. Austin caught the low pass, sliding to the ground to make the eight-yard reception.
Romo, meanwhile, was seen limping after delivering the ball. Something was wrong.
What it meant: Romo pressed on in spite of the injury and delivered a thrilling comeback in the final minutes. After the game, Romo said he thought he tweaked his back while completing the pass to Austin. But tests revealed that the damage was much worse. Romo had suffered a herniated disk and underwent season-ending surgery Dec. 27, two days before the Cowboys played Philadelphia in a do-or-die game for the NFC East title. Without Romo, the Cowboys lost 24-22, to the Eagles. The season was over.
Breaking down Tony Romo’s five worst plays of the 2013 season Breaking down Tony Romo’s five worst plays of the 2013 season Reviewed by Mr. DCStands4 on 8:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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