The Cowboys have defied expectations in 2014 because of their offensive line and the running game. However, in the biggest game of the season, a rematch of a bad Week 13 loss to the Eagles, Tony Romo was the difference.
On Thanksgiving, Romo was awful. As the Eagles kept scoring, Romo couldn’t keep the offense on the field. Physically, he missed several throws, including a few critical 3rd downs that prevented Dallas from keeping pace with Philadelphia. Last Sunday night, though, Romo was spot on.
Romo began the night by converting on several 3rd downs. The Eagles tried doubling both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on a few of these critical downs. When they did, Romo took advantage of his 1-on-1’s elsewhere.
When his trusted receivers weren’t being doubled, Romo went after their 1-on-1 matchups. During the Cowboys’ second drive, he found Witten in 1-on-1 coverage on 3rd down and hit him with a perfect ball over the middle for 17 yards. Whenever Romo had Dez Bryant in 1-on-1 coverage on the outside versus the outmatched Bradley Fletcher, he took advantage and made some big time throws downfield. Bryant finished with 3 touchdowns as a result.
The Eagles actually did a better job of stopping the run on Sunday than they did in Week 13. Romo kept the offense on track, though. After Dallas blew a 21-0 lead and trailed by 3, Romo led the offense downfield with ease for the go-ahead touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Again, he identified Dez Bryant in 1-on-1 coverage and took advantage with some accurate throws that he did not make when these teams first played.
The Cowboys will be tested in the final 2 weeks of the season because of DeMarco Murray’s hand injury. Whether he plays a lot of snaps or not, the Cowboys should still pick up yards on the ground with Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. Dallas has had success running the ball this season largely because of their offensive line. That shouldn’t change in the coming weeks. Dallas needs to stay the course and maintain the balance on offense that has gotten them this far whether they have Murray’s services or not. Tony Romo is the X-factor, however. If he plays as well as he did against Philly, the Cowboys will not only make the playoffs, but they’ll also be serious contenders for the NFC conference title.