Tony Romo vs the Colts – 18/20, 218 yards, 4 TDs

Tony Romo’s performance versus the Colts was very impressive completing 90% of his passes and four touchdowns. This post will analyze his performance.

Stats
Romo – 18/20, 218 yards, 10.9 ypa, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 3 rushes for 28 yards, 1 sack for 11 yards

Play 1
Situation: 2nd and 8 at DAL 22
Description: Q1 – (14:25) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to D.Bryant to DAL 31 for 9 yards (D.Butler). Pass complete on a “crossing” pattern.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Shotgun Trips Right Far
Offensive Grouping: 11
Defense Formation: Cover 1, 2 underneath zones, man-coverage by CBs

http://i.imgur.com/qzD2vQz.png

Romo has WR88 Bryant in the center of the trips right grouping running a crossing/in-route over the middle of the field. Romo snaps the ball and hits Bryant right in the numbers to start the game with a quick and accurate pass.

Bryant makes a quick cut in front of CB20 Butler in off-man coverage to create the separation necessary for the catch.

Play 7
Situation: 2nd and 6 at IND 22
Description: Q1 – (8:11) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to J.Witten to IND 5 for 17 yards (L.Landry). Pass complete on a “skinny” post.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Empty-set Shotgun
Offensive Grouping: 02
Defense Formation: Cover 1, man-coverage across the board

Romo has TE82 Witten in the left slot runs a skinny-post over the middle. SS30 Landry is in off-man coverage playing outside-technique so Romo finds him quickly for the strike up the middle of the field. Great read and throw by Romo.

DE90 Redding makes an excellent bull-rush through LG65 Leary, but Romo’s pass is too quick for it to be effective. Still a very good pass rush into the pocket.

Play 8
Situation: 2nd and 4 at IND 4
Description: Q1 – (6:44) T.Romo pass short left to D.Bryant for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on DAL-D.Murray, Illegal Motion, 5 yards, enforced at IND 4 – No Play.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Singleback Far
Offensive Grouping: 13
Defense Formation: Three Linebackers underneath, man-coverage on outside WR

Romo motions Murray from the backfield and then quickly snaps the ball. WR88 Bryant runs a fade route on the left side of the field and Romo places the ball on his outside shoulder. Bryant uses his body positioning to jockey the defender out of the play for the touchdown.

This play got called back due to illegal motion by Murray. Murray never reset his feet and was still moving forward during the snap. Luckily for the Cowboys they scored on the very next play.

Play 9
Situation: 2nd and 9 at IND 9
Description: Q1 – (6:40) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to T.Williams for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Pass complete on a “slant” pattern. D.Bailey extra point is GOOD, Center-L.Ladouceur, Holder-C.Jones.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Shotgun Trips Right
Offensive Grouping: 11
Defense Formation: Cover 1, man-coverage across the board

Romo has WR83 Williams from the right outside run a slant route across the field. This is a designed pick play where WR11 Beasley’s quick-out route interferes directly with the path of Williams’ defender. Good play design to get rid of the man-coverage for the easy score.

Play 10
Situation: 1st and 10 at IND 19
Description: Q1 – (4:30) T.Romo pass deep right to D.Bryant for 19 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Penalty on IND-G.Toler, Defensive Holding, declined. D.Bailey extra point is GOOD, Center-L.Ladouceur, Holder-C.Jones.
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Offense Formation: I Slot Left
Offensive Grouping: 21
Defense Formation: Cover 2 with 3 underneath zones

WR88 Bryant runs a sluggo against CB28 Toler. Toler grabs and holds onto Bryant knowing he is beat drawing the penalty.

Romo places the ball perfectly infront of Bryant for him to make a play on the ball. Romo also does a great job of looking off the safety right before he throws the ball to make sure this option to Bryant stays open.

Play 11
Situation: 2nd and 5 at DAL 30
Description: Q1 – (2:17) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass deep left to D.Bryant to IND 46 for 24 yards (V.Davis). Penalty on IND-V.Davis, Defensive Holding, declined.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Empty-set Shotgun Doubles
Offensive Grouping: 01
Defense Formation: Cover 3 with four underneath zones and man-coverage on Bryant

Romo throws a beautiful back shoulder fade to Bryant on the sideline for the 24 yard gain while he is being held by CB21 Davis. Great throw by Romo and great job by Bryant to use his body positioning to secure the catch.

Play 13
Situation: 1st and 10 at IND 24
Description: Q2 – (14:19) Cole Beasley 24 Yd TD pass from Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick).
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Offense Formation: Shotgun Slot Left Far
Offensive Grouping: 11
Defense Formation: Cover 1, three underneath zones and man-coverage on the WRs

WR11 Beasley runs a slant-route and avoids being tackled to score the touchdown. His CB was in off-man coverage so this was a quick-first read pass by Romo.

Beasley gets the vast majority of the credit here. Normally a linebacker that tackles you would take you down, but Beasley sheds the tackle. Watch the free safety on this play run up the field to cut off Beasley. The FS needs to stay back further to prevent the cutback lane as there are multiple defenders directly in front of Beasley if he continued on that route.

Play 18
Situation: 3rd and 14 at IND 23
Description: Q3 – (13:13) (Shotgun) T.Romo sacked at IND 34 for -11 yards (A.Jones).
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Offense Formation: Shotgun Twins Stack Right Far
Offensive Grouping: 11
Defense Formation: Cover 4

Sack alert! Obvious passing play on 3rd and long, the Colts are in deep Cover 4. Romo tries to buy time in the pocket but the pressure gets to him eventually and he is sacked for an 11 yard loss. Kicker Bailey attempts the 52 yard field goal, but misses it wide right on the next play.

I’m not a fan of this play call nor am I fan of Romo holding onto the ball this long. Witten is open in the flat so Romo didn’t need to take a sack. Sure the Cowboys weren’t knocked out of field goal range, but this would have been a much easier kick for Bailey.

Going back to the play call, the Cowboys are going up against deep Cover 4 coverage and you have three routes that go right into their zones. An offensive coordinator’s job is to be more clever than call an obvious three deep route play. The Cowboys should have run a screen pass or possibly even a RB Draw up the middle. Regardless all options most likely wouldn’t have succeeded but either of the options I mentioned would have been a better call than this play call. Also, by this point the Cowboys are up 28-0, so the Cowboys should just want to protect their lead and protect their players.

Terrible play-call. Romo should just throw the short pass and live to fight another day.

Play 22
Situation: 2nd and 11 at IND 25
Description: Q3 – (4:48) Jason Witten 25 Yd TD pass from Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick).
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Empty-set Shotgun Trips Left
Offensive Grouping: 01
Defense Formation: Cover 4, Four underneath zones

Witten runs a seam route up the middle of the field and beats the underneath linebacker zone to be wide-open for a lob pass. The center two zones of the Cover 4 split outside giving Romo a free shot up the middle. Great throw by Romo for the TD and good job by him to look off the safeties to give him the clear throwing lane.

In these plays, Romo uses his scrambling ability to keep the drive alive.

Play 2
Situation: 2nd and 10 at DAL 31
Description: Q1 – (13:13) T.Romo scrambles up the middle to DAL 39 for 8 yards (D.Jackson).
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: Offset-I Left
Offensive Grouping: 11
Defense Formation: Cover 1, One LB zone underneath, man-coverage outside

http://i.imgur.com/ieZgG42.png

Immediately after the snap C72 Frederick and RG70 Martin miss completely on their blocking assignments. DE90 Redding rushes into the backfield through the A-gap at Romo. Romo sees this in time to scramble around the pocket.

http://i.imgur.com/0ZSo8VH.png

Meanwhile NT96 Chapman falls victim to the play-action, but realizes it after Murray cuts outside the pocket giving him a free running lane at Romo. Frederick redeems himself pushing Chapman out of the play.

http://i.imgur.com/WBCPMER.png

Romo scrambles through the hole for an 8 yard gain on the play. In this play, Romo uses his vision to avoid being tackled and his scrambling ability to keep the play alive. Complete credit goes to Romo on this play as it was doomed from the snap.

Play 4
Situation: 2nd and 11 at DAL 40
Description: Q1 – (11:28) T.Romo scrambles right end ran ob at IND 47 for 13 yards.
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Endzone View

Offense Formation: I Twin Bunch Right
Offensive Grouping: 21
Defense Formation: Cover 2, two LB zones underneath, man-coverage outside

In this play, Romo takes the snap and reads the field before realizing the entire right side of the field is open for him to scramble. Normally, when a quarterback gains 13 yards and a first down you can’t be upset, but Romo completely misses on a wide-open Dez Bryant on the post-route over the middle.

http://i.imgur.com/kvJ9fny.png

For all of his plays during this impressive game this was Romo’s only blemish of the night.

Romo only had two incomplete passes during the game. The first was in Play 5 on a WR screen to Harris that was batted down at the line of scrimmage, while the second was in Play 25 (below) which almost resulted in a pick-six.

Play 25
Situation: 2nd and 11 at IND 27
Description: Q4 – (13:02) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to C.Beasley (S.Brown).
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Endzone View

In this play, FS38 Brown undercuts WR11 Beasley’s route and almost has a pick-six. CB20 Butler lining up directly over Beasley and blitzes after the snap. Brown takes Butler’s man-coverage responsibility on Beasley.

http://i.imgur.com/LaQGXI2.png

Many will instantly criticize Romo for this play thinking that he “didn’t see the safety”, but in fact this was a miscommunication with Beasley’s route. Romo thinks Beasley will adjust to the blitzing CB and continue with the slant, which explains why the ball was so outside of Beasley. Instead Beasley continues on his route up the field on the slant-and-go giving Brown a free shot at the interception.

http://i.imgur.com/AUm5xFv.png

Overall, Romo simply was dominant against the Colts defense. It’s amazing that his only two incompletions occurred on a WR screen pass and one route miscommunication. If Romo and the Cowboys continue at this pace, they can easily be contenders for the Super Bowl this year. Credit should also go to LT77 Smith for a phenomenal job protecting Romo all day. Keep an eye out for him in the GFYs below as he did an expert job earning his eight year extension.

Samuel Gold

Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.