Unfortunately for me, this past weeks game was my first Cowboys game. It was quite an experience, in spite of the outcome. The sight of the Boys coming out for pre game warm-ups is something I'll never forget. But enough about that, here are some things I noted from the game, without the benefit of instant replay, multiple camera angles, or Tivo to back me up on this.
The elements were brutal It was extremely cold and windy at the game. Down in the open end, there was a really strong wind blowing from left to right. I noticed that during pre game warmups Folk and Reed (two of the leagues most accurate kickers) were both pushing a lot of kicks wide right. I had feared before the game this could be an issue during the game. Fortunately for us, that was the end that Reed pushed his field goal wide right and put another one off the post. He also very nearly missed an extra point wide right on that end, as did Folk. I also can't help but think the cold and wind had some effect on the passing games, as both QB's looked terribly inaccurate and had many passes sail on them. I know I had a hard time holding on to my phone, so I can imagine gripping a football and throwing it 20 yards or more downfield would have been exceedingly difficult.
Romo and his receivers never looked to be on the same page I can't tell you how many times it looked to me like Romo's receivers either ran the wrong route or he threw to the wrong spot. The first and third INT's definitely fall under that category. I saw it posted on other threads on here, and I agree, that those two were not necessarily Romo's fault. The one to Owens, it seemed clear that Owens slowed up, as it also did on the deep ball on third down on the last drive. There were also several passes that it was hard to distinguish if Romo just threw the pass horribly, or if he expected his receiver to run his route differently.
Romo=Bad Cold weather and receivers aside, Romo did not play a good game at all. During the last drive of the half and the first two of the third quarter, he looked like vintage Romo. For one reason or another, he just didn't seem to be making the right reads. Guys were running wide open while he was throwing into double coverage. He also seemed to take a lesson from Ben and was holding onto the ball WAY too long. He seemed to be really antsy as well, and seemed to actually run into the pressure when he had a clean pocket to stand in. The INT to Taylor was just a horrible throw. If he had at least put some air on it, the receiver could have tried to make a play on it.
Offensive scheme I thought Jason Garrett did a decent job in the way he handled the running game. Although running the ball wasn't netting us huge plays, it was at least picking up yardage and allowing us to stay in manageable third downs. The third down draw play was effective, but he went to the well too many times with that play. I didn't like the play calling on the short yardage situations. Owens and Williams were getting 8+ yard cushions for the entire game. Why not just sling it out to them and let them fall forward? Speaking of those cushions, if that was the coverage the Steelers were going to play, why not attack them with short routes? Also, the Steelers two deep safeties seemed to float around the numbers to try and keep from being beaten down the sidelines, yet our routes played into their hands. The intermediate middle of the field was open all game long. Bennett could have caught the ball about every play he was in, as he was running free most of the night. I also thought we should have ran more quick passes to try and beat some of the pressure they were bringing.
Defensive scheme This game was, in my opinion, by far the best defensive game of the season. Especially considering that, of the 20 they scored, 13 of the Steelers' points were gimme's from the offense or special teams. I know they gave up a lot of yards late, but most of that was due to Wade bringing out the bogus prevent zone, and Ben picked us apart. I would have continued to challenge Ben to make plays down the field in the weather to beat us. I know earlier in the season, Bradie James was ridiculed for his blitzing, because he'd always seem to just run into the line. Well in this game, that was Zach Thomas. I can recall at least two occassions where on first down, the defense run blitzed the two ILB's. Both times, it seemed like Zach and Bradie blitzed the same gap, and Zach got caught inside allowing a decent run to his side. I don't know if that's something that has consistently happened, or if it was just this game. Although he was everything short of a miracle in the return game, Pacman showed no rust in pass defense and made several excellent plays in coverage (that the Steeler fans thought were penalties, of course). We also got lucky a number of times when Ward was running free, and Ben just couldn't seem to find him. Overall, I thought our front 7 played an outstanding game, and our secondary was just above average.
Roy Williams Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like he and Romo have their timing down yet. I noticed multiple occassions where Roy would run a double move (mostly posts and flags) where Roy would come out of his break in between the corner and the safety wide open, and Romo couldn't find him. It seemed like one of those things where he should come out of his break and the ball is already in the air. I don't know if Romo doesn't have him down or if he just doesn't trust him. I've noticed that Romo never goes to him in critical spots or if he's hurried. Roy did have a pretty effective game run blocking though.
Random Thoughts On second down of the final drive, Romo had Crayton wide open down the seam for an easy touchdown and never saw him. I don't know if you guys would have been able to see that on tv...The Steeler fans only seemed to be rowdy when the game first started, and when they tied the game up. While they were losing, they were a very tame bunch. I even noticed quite a few people left the game after the goal line stand we had...There was a play we ran Choice to the left on where Troy P caught him from behind in backside pursuit for a medium gain. I guarantee you that play would have resulted in 6 with Felix's speed.