Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had both a brilliant play and a dumb play on the same play in Sunday night’s loss to the Giants, and afterward he was kicking himself over it.
With the Cowboys facing third-and-5 at the Giants’ 39-yard line, trailing 14-0 late in the second quarter, Romo dropped back to pass and looked to his right, where he was pressured by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Romo avoided Pierre-Paul, turned back and ran to his left, where he was nearly sacked by Osi Umenyiora but managed to shake free. There he was pressured by Pierre-Paul again before he bolted to his right and into the clear, eventually passing to Dez Bryant. Romo scrambled for a full 12 seconds on the play, and it was one of the most impressive examples of a quarterback buying time for himself that you’ll ever see.
Except for one thing: By the time Romo threw the pass, he was about two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The resulting penalty — five yards from the spot of the pass and a loss of down — led to a Cowboys punt. If Romo had simply continued running instead of throwing the ball, he had room to pick up the first down, and the Cowboys would have had a great shot of continuing the drive and cutting the Giants’ lead to 14-3 or 14-7 at halftime. Instead, the Cowboys punted, and the Giants drove down the field and scored again before the end of the second quarter, and the halftime score was 21-0 Giants.
Romo said he saw the down marker just as he threw the pass and was surprised at himself for making such a bad decision on that play.
“I looked right over, right at that moment,” Romo said. “It was obviously a very big play in the game. I can’t remember the last time that happened. That’s another one to think about.”
That’s one Romo may be thinking about all offseason, and it was one play that encapsulated much of Romo’s career: We got a glimpse of greatness, and then we got a big mistake.