The Romo Rebound
Well, folks, for anyone who figured Tony Romo's magic may have worn out, not so fast. Romo answered the worst game of his career with a brilliant performance: 22 of 29, 278 yards, 2 TD's, and 1 INT. A great game, though against one of the NFL's worst pass defenses.
And boy the Cowboys needed every bit of that action, along with Marion Barber's brawlish rushing to get this win. That due to the fact the defense and offensive line once again got mauled.
That makes this a rather humbling victory. Sure, it just about sewed up Dallas' first playoff birth sinced The Tuna's first season at Valley Ranch. But the defensive performance provides for great pause as you consider their playoff chances.
Roy Williams once again proved suspect. Only this week, Michael Vick missed a wide open Alge Crumpler on a play that should have given the Falcons a 14-point third quarter lead. The Cowboys' ability to comeback would have been severely tested and Barber's second half running game would have been eliminated for the second straight week.
The other safety, this week rookie Pat Watkins, was another story, though. Watkins apparently took his re-entry into the starting lineup to heart and made a few plays. He was present in the running game, even laying a monster hit on Michael Vick, and played center field well enough to pull in the game-clinching interception.
The rest of the defense is still in desperate need of work, however. This was supposed a game of strength on strength: Dallas' run defense vs. Atlanta's run offense. And compared to the Atlanta's usual output the Cowboys did well allowing 127 yards.
But they also allowed Vick to have a field day in the passing game with four TD's, exploiting Anthony Henry and the defense's inability to cover a fullback. I mean, who has the freakin' fullback on these plays. Last week, New Orleans' Mike Karney posts three touchdowns and, this week, Atlanta's Justin Griffith scores twice. And it appears Williams is the guy letting the fullback go in the red zone, too. I also hear Darryl "Moose" Johnston is begging Philadelphia for a Christmas Day comeback so he can make a run at the Hall of Fame.
And, don't let tonight's sack numbers fool you. This defense is still not getting to the QB enough, allowing the secondary to be pimped slapped week in and week out. The front seven would bee dead without DeMarcus Ware proving he was worth an 11th-overall pick.
Add to that, seeing the offensive line pushed around all night, leading to three sacks and three tipped balls, one of which caused Romo's lone pick, and there are a number of holes on this squad.
And then putting the recent "big" wins in context is only all the more sobering for Dallas. It was thought to be big for Dallas to win in Carolina. It was thought to be a huge upset to beat Indianapolis. However, time has shown those victories were the beginning of downward spirals on the part of the opponents. The win over the Giants was due not only to Romo's clutch play but also NY Giant mental errors and the total failure to include the fullback in the goalline offense. So where is that so called signature win for Parcells and his team really at now? Tonight's rebound victory? A win over a mediocre team that was too close for too long.
So is there life after Greg Ellis? Can the defense stop anyone? If not, can they end the ten year playoff victory drought?
Only time will tell, but it's looking unlikely.