I haven't done a film session in a very long time and honestly been really looking forward to getting one done. These are very time consuming, so I don't expect to pump these out once a week like last season. This is for your viewing pleasure because this was the epitome of letting Tony Romo do what he does best, airing it out and playing aggressive football. Allowing Romo to go out and make the big plays needed to win the game in crunch time was the right decision and we should see this every week unless the running game is overly effective.
Someone wanted me to make a comment about Dez Bryant's ball security and fumbling issues potentially throwing games away. Maybe he needs to smarten up there, but this play right here and frankly that entire drive, Dez was money and showed why he is one of the best receivers in the league. He made two mistakes, but his play in the rest of the game made up for it. What he did on the final drive of the game in the clutch erases those mental errors because he is the type of player who can take the game over.
This play also exposes a major weakness in the New York Giants defense. With Trumaine McBride out, this forced Antrel Rolle to come down into the slot and cover Dez. Chalk this up to the Dallas coaching staff seeing an opportunity and taking it. They saw a weakness, then seized their moment to capitalize. Good coaches do this, and good teams have success because of that.
This play comes after Tyron Smith's false start penalty on third down. This forced the team from a manageable 3rd and 2, into a 3rd and 7. Jason Pierre-Paul may have leaned forward and forced him to start early, but whatever, it is what it is and we got the wrong side of the call.
Dallas comes out with a bunch trips formation towards the left sideline. Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant make this a unique personnel for this set. I've circled safety Antrel Rolle because with the injury to cornerback Trumaine McBride, Rolle must now come down into the slot and cover either a WR or TE. Will Hill and Ryan Mundy stay back as the safeties, with Terrell Thomas on Terrance Williams lined up wide and Prince Amukamara originally lines up on the other side to take Bryant.
There will be man coverage up front and Miles Austin motions out of the trips bunch and sets up outside. This then shifts the Giants coverage alignment into one high safety and man to man press at the line. Safety Will Hill now has to come up into the box to take Witten, Rolle takes Bryant and Amukamara takes Austin.
Thomas is on an island with Williams on the other side of the field and Mundy will have to make a decision later in this play. Does he shade over to give Thomas help or come up on one of the other routes that will develop in front or to the side of him?
I'm not leaving the linebackers out, we'll get to them later in the play, but they have cheated towards the line and appear to be coming on a blitz.
Before the snap, Romo makes one more change to play and gives one of his receivers a hand signal. Tony has become very good at pre-snap reads and with the impending blitz, this could have been a hot route. He may have adjusted or changed a route here, or it could have been nothing more than a decoy, we shall never know these types of things and can only offer an educated guess.
The theory of getting the best matchup possible here was executed by the coaching staff because of great play design. Williams runs a go route on the outside and carries Thomas up the field. Mundy still needs to decide whether to stay over there or shade up on an underneath route. Witten will carry his man inside towards the middle of the field. Austin will take his route back inside and Dez will attempt to free up back outside from the slot.
Moving Dez to the slot here was the type of stuff we need to see more of the next few weeks and longer.
At this point, you can see the dilemma the Giants face. Either Austin is going to take his route across the middle of the field and have a serious opportunity to have some yards after catch, but the impending threat of the pick about to be set is going to free up Dez for a potential big play.
With the pick finally set in motion, Rolle and Amukamara get too close into each other and the coverage now has been compromised. Both Austin and Bryant will have a step on their man.
Look at the amount of room Austin could have, seeing this the safety attacks towards that side of the field to offer help to his cornerback. Dez is beginning to take his route up the field now.
Taking a step backwards, this is what Romo saw before he made the pass. Jon Beason and Jacquian Williams will both blitz on this play. What has killed the Cowboys offense in the past? A-Gap blitzes and trust me teams around the league know that.
In the first game of the season, Williams ran a successful stunt on Doug Free. This time he wasn't as successful but the Giants remembered the stunts and gap blitzes that worked and attempted to use them again
In this shot, you can see the linebackers blitz and the defensive lineman run the stunt. Frederick and Bernadeau do a great job of picking this up and Murray steps up in the right gap.
The entire offensive line did a fantastic job here. Both the tackles take their man out of the play on an island with no help. The guards, center and running back all pick up the stunts and blitzers without a problem. Because of their ability to eliminate the threat of the pass rush, Romo is able to stand tall and make an excellent throw to Dez on the back shoulder.
Towards the end of his route, Dez has carried Rolle far enough up the field that he will have him on roller skates. Even though he is a former cornerback, Rolle made the change to safety for a reason. He won't have the footwork and anticipation to break on the ball quick on enough because the purpose of the back shoulder gets the defender out of position before the receiver turns around for the ball.
Rolle is all over Dez and honestly, he should have been flagged for pass interference. Had Dallas not converted this play because of that and there was no flag, this really could have cost us the game. Fortunately, Dez is a beast and is physical enough to take the contact and shrug it off on his way to making one of the biggest catches and plays of the game. This was a huge third down conversion and it came with the game on the line. It was an aggressive play that I commend the Cowboys for calling and executing.
Pick routes have killed Dallas recently, and I for one would love to see us start serving them up to other teams and burn them using them.
This was good coaching, great play design and the players executed. This is the type of football playoff teams play, maybe Dallas can begin to pick up where they left off and carry this on the rest of the season.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays everyone!
Chia's Note: Finished this at 2:43 am Eastern, did not proofread, so please don't kill me on any grammatical errors I am really beat! Thanks, just shoot a comment and I will fix any errors, much appreciated!