Some had been asking what happened to the lead draw, the play Romo has used with great frequency and success but which wasn't seen much the first two games.
Well they used it in the first quarter of the Rams game (with a variation on the "lead"). And when you draw it up and walk it through and practice it, I'm not sure you even imagine that it could work quite this well.
Daniel Jeremiah noted on Twitter and posted a screenshot from the all-22 end zone view.
I'm studying the STL-DAL game. Is this a good hole for Murray? pic.twitter.com/Tt1SPqS3cD— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) September 26, 2013
You know Tony is loving that view.
09:22 1st Qtr: Murray 13 yard delayed hand off to nine yard line - On 1st and 10, driving on an excellent mix of run and pass, Romo delivers a delayed hand off to Murray from a deep one back set. The play goes to the left behind Fredericks, Leary, Smith and Dez who are six, zero, five and four yards down field respectively as Murray dashed through the huge gap created where Leary absolutely plowed his man into the ground and is well into the second level before he decides to cut inside his protective wall and make a dash for the goal line. In front of that line of blockers Witten and Austin are engaging defensive players eight and one half yards down field. Williams is further out of the play but has his man under control and is not letting him go. Murray is finally brought down at the nine, but not before you get a chance to enjoy some excellent down field blocking. Seeing Murray that far down field behind his power left is what Cowboys fans should be enjoying for years to come. This is what this team was built to do.
When I looked at this play closely I was just stunned by the amount of space Murray has. So I put together a few screenshots for your appreciation. (Click on photos to view full sized versions.)
Just before the snap. Witten, Miles and Williams right, Dez left, Murray deep.
To this point they are completely selling a pass. Oline are high hats, in pass pro sets, defending the pocket instead of blocking downhill. Romo is looking out toward his 3-receiver side. Murray is looking like he's scanning for blitzers.
Now Murray has the ball. Tyron Smith employing aikido tactic, energy of defender used against him, letting him get momentum upfield and then just boosting him right out of the play.
Leary has thrown his guy flat to the turf. Smith having ejected his guy, has now turned upfield as a lead blocker (variation from typical lead draw with FB or H-back as lead). Let me repeat that: Tyron Smith is the lead blocker. Fred is two yards past the line lining up the linebacker, while the TE/WRs are forming a wall downfield.
This is the money shot. Click to enlarge this one. Murray is just crossing the line of scrimmage. He has about five yards of open space on all sides, and blocked in all directions. Just look at the amount of space they've managed to create at the line of scrimmage for Murray to run through, behind Smith. Truly a thing of beauty.
I think we'll run this and variations of it a few more times this season. And I think teams will have to prepare to defend it, and we will have ways to take advantage of that.
It won't likely work quite this well every time! But it will be an important part of this offense. It is basically the inverse of the play-action pass. It's the pass-action run. And with the threat of Dez and our other receivers, it can be a deadly part of our arsenal, and help open up other plays in turn. And even though all he is doing is handing the ball off, Romo happens to sell this pass fake as well as any QB.
But now check out the same play run later in the game with completely opposite results!