A breakdown of the 3 interceptions. This article is not a "Romo needs to be traded" article. Nor is it a "Romo is a serial choker" article. I do not believe Romo is the sole or primary reason for the disappointments of the last several years. This team has major deficiencies in other crucial areas and has for a long time. Having said that he's definitely at fault for his play in the Redskins game. I've read comments and posts about how this interception or that wasn't really his fault or that someone else is equally to blame. There was a front page article that discussed his last interception and drew dubious conclusions that inspired me to do this.
Interception One: I've repeatedly heard this Interception placed at the feet of Kevin Ogletree. As Ogletree has been a disappointing player he's an easy target to be scapegoated. I think though it's an unfair assessment to put it on him. Just because Romo may have publicly scolded him after the play doesn't necessarily mean he's 100% to blame. When I first saw the play it just looked like a poor throw with the possibility that Ogletree was late reacting to it. On further review it does look like Romo just missed him for what could have been a big play (maybe even a Td?). We went from at least 3 points and a possible 7 points to zero points with this play.
Garrett's assessment in his press conference seems pretty spot on to me.
Jason Garrett: We had a near miss on a hot to Kevin Ogletree. The ball was a little high, I think it sailed on Tony a little bit. I don't think he had a great clear view of where Kevin was and that was an interception.
Go through the photos from this first pick. As Garrett said, the ball is high, I'd also add that Romo's mechanics and throwing motion look poor especially considering he's got plenty of space to set and throw but rather just chucks it. A poor play that could have been a huge play with some really simple execution.
This next photo shows the ball coming in high.
This next photo is from the All-22 footage and clearly shows the ball in front and high. Ogletree never really had a chance (the ball is in front and above his outstretched arm).
Interception Two: This one is pretty clear cut. I've heard some claims that Romo couldn't step up and that Miles let him down but neither hold any real credibility in light of the actual play evidence.
Jason Garrett: On the next drive we took a shot down the field against their Corner who bailed out of there, Tony left it inside a little bit on a throw to Miles and Miles didn't do a good enough job of knocking the ball out.
First Photo: When Romo’s ends his drop he has great protection. That pocket is as good as it gets in the NFL.
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Photo: Miles is running his route up the sideline with a CB on his hip and a Safety coming over. Look where Miles is in the first of these photos and then watch where the ball ends up. The throw was short and too far inside. Miles may have done a poor job trying to break up the Interception but it was clearly the bad throw the put him in the position of having to try and play emergency defense.
Interception 3: Now this is the one that got me interested in doing this Fanpost. There was another article done analysing this Interception that attempts to explain/excuse Romo’s throw. I thought the photos used in that article where very convenient in trying to paint a picture the author wanted but that were not overall a sound representation of how that play developed.
Once again, Garrett gives the best summary:
Jason Garrett: What happened on that one was we free released the back out the weak side of the formation like we had done down in the redzone earlier and what they did is they brought a rusher of the edge and then he peeled off of it and often times how you can handle that is you can try to lay the ball over that guy’s head because he’s not in great coverage position. He made a good play (Redskin defender); a very good play on the ball and Tony didn’t get the ball out there quite enough.
Notice there’s nothing about "Romo didn’t see the defender", or "Romo got fooled". A more comprehensive look through the photos of that play will show why Garrett did not say that and why attempts to portray Romo as simply not having a chance to see the defender are inaccurate and hence rely on a convenient set of photographs.
Second Photo: Romo has taken a step back one yard. The LB’er, on planting his second step, has already shifted towards Murray.
Fifth Photo: Romo is still staring down Murray and beginning to throw to him as the pass rusher comes toward him. The LB’er covering Murray has had his eyes on Romo the entire play and is in great position. Clearly the LB’er is in plain sight of Romo.
Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Photo: Letting the ball go off his back foot and leaning backwards Romo is trying to throw over the defender (as Garrett also said). It’s not that he didn’t see him, clearly he did, it’s that he just decided to do it anyway. On first down. With the season on the line. With the position of the LB’er it was a very risky decision (putting it politely). With the poor throw it was a disaster.
I think these ten photos of Interception 3 give a very different, and much more accurate, look at how that play unfolded.
I offer this series up purely in regards to discussion on this game. This post is not meant to be a commentary on his entire career (though by all means feel free to have a broader discussion in the comments if you wish). It is meant to make a case that, regardless of history or reputation (deserved or otherwise), Tony Romo absolutely bears the burden of this loss. These throws/decisions were very poor and they were the primary factor in the loss. It was an inconsistent season for Romo and he capped it with a bad showing in the biggest game.