Cowboys Huddle-Up: The Risk-Takers Won
ARLINGTON — Conventional wisdom insists that Tony Romo and the Cowboys were the risk-takers on Monday for doing anything other arranging for the unpeeling of their star QB from the grass-like floor of AT&T Stadium, enveloping him in bubblewrap, and airlifting him to the nearest crisis center for examination. But actually, the Cowboys weren’t the team taking the nationally-televised risks here in what turned out to be a 20-17 OT loss.
The Washington Redskins — like a lousy team with a lousy record playing on the road while led by a third-string quarterback — are the ones who rolled gigantic dice.
“Brass ones,’’ as it turns out, to paraphrase Jimmy Johnson, though Jimmy wasn’t talking about dice.
Yes, it’s true, after Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson blitzed through Dallas’ unusually turnstile-like protection and blasted Romo, somehow landing a knee into the QB’s surgically-repaired back, Romo’s decision to eventually return to the game seemed rather … daring … risky … stupid.
And people on the Dallas sideline — medical people — clearly agreed, as they attempted to veto Romo’s desire to return following the administering of a pain-masking shot to his back.
“He’s a warrior,’’ teammate Jason Witten said, and there’s no argument there … even though the warrior lost when his late-game performance was as wobbly as he was following Robinson’s pounding of him.
Rome’s motivation is clear and pure. He’s the leader of a team that entered Monday with an NFL-best 6-1 record. This was a chance to crush an NFC foe and to extend the standings lead over the rest. The Cowboys say the injury is a contusion, and pending further tests today, we'll go with that panic-free assertion.
But the Redskins were afforded a different motivation, a kooky-but-invaluable one:
Nothing to lose.
That’s as blitz-happy a defense as I’ve seen. And what surely started out as a dice-roll try by a long-time Dallas nemesis, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, ended up as a five-quarter strategy because Romo’s pass-protectors never quite solved it. End result: No discovery of a way to exploit what often looked like Cover-0. And an embarrassing total of five sacks of Romo gifted by this vaunted young O-line.
Go for it on fourth down? Sure, and why shouldn’t rookie head coach Jay Gruden call for a throw off play-action to somebody named Darrel Young, who touches the football about once per game for Washington?
Ask Colt McCoy to imitate injured Redskins starter Robert Griffin III? Dallas only forced McCoy to miss on five of his 30 passes, and he zigged and zagged in the pocket to get 299 passing yards and a rushing touchdown. McCoy, a University of Texas product, had been 6-16 as an NFL starter and the team he was in charge of was just as bad, at 2-5 coming in.
"Well, it's terribly disappointing," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, and no, smart guy, he wasn't referring to his Romo-related presence on the sideline. "Jay Gruden and his staff, their organization, they came in here and took it to us.’’
Washington took it to Dallas because Washington, contrary to conventional wisdom, is the team that took the risks here.
In addition to monitoring Romo today, starting linebacker and Cowboys team captain Justin Durant might be out for the season with a torn biceps injury sustained in the second half of Monday's loss.
The news, delivered by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after Dallas dropped to 6-2, robs the Cowboys of a player who totaled a team-high 10 tackles Monday, and in the first half of this season also has two forced fumbles and an interception.
Durant's replacement will likely be Kyle Wilber.
Left tackle Ron Leary injured his groin in the game and was replaced by Mackenzy Bernadeau.
*Tony Romo extended his streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 36, which tied Brett Favre's for the 5th longest streak in NFL history. ... Romo moved ahead of 49ers QB John Brodie for the 36th most passing yards in NFL history. ... Romo extended his streak of consecutive games with 60+ completion % to 10. The longest streak of his career is 17. ... Romo extended his streak of consecutive games with a QB rating over 90.0 to 7, which is the 2nd longest of his career. The longest streak of Romo's career is 8.
*DeMarco Murray extended his NFL record of most consecutive 100+ yard rushing games to start a season to 8.
*Dez Bryant passed Jay Novacek for the 8th most receptions in franchise history.
*Dan Bailey passed Bob Hayes for the 4th most points in franchise history, giving him 457.
"It was obviously painful, but I also felt like I could deal with it. I don't know that (the back contusion) affected (his late-game play) a ton. Their defense the last series or two affected it more than anything else." -- Tony Romo.
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