NFL Week One is officially over. It's time to hand out the BTB game balls for the Cowboys' road-win over the Buccaneers. Each week, I will virtually hand off a game ball to one player from each unit: offense, defense, and special teams. Hell, let's give one to a coach, as well.
Tony Romo - Other than throwing for a career-high 353 yards, Romo just looked like he was on the same page with Jason Garrett's game plan. Sure, he missed on in the end zone, and then threw behind and Roy Williams. He even missed on that deep pass to . After that, he clicked. Austin caught on and adjusted to Romo's back-shoulder bullet. Romo and continued to abuse defenses on third-downs. He spread the ball around and found his rhythm with each of his receivers.
Tampa Bay did pressure Romo rather consistently, but he and Garrett took advantage. Nothing frustrates a defense more than allowing an 80-yard touchdown two plays after the offense pulls the team to within six. Just ask.
To top off a statistically superb day (140.6 QB rating), I was also impressed with some of the little things Romo did. His block on Crayton's reverse would have helped gain a first down, had there not been a penalty. He faked like he was passing to freeze defenders on a nice, early run from. When looked to have fumbled, Romo was there to dive on the ball. His hustle to get the team lined up after Crayton's second long catch-and-run also showed his command of the offense.
Honorable Mention: Marion Barber, Jason Witten
Terence Newman - This was a tough call between T-New and . I went with Newman because his veteran savvy came in handy up against the Bucs' big receivers. He pressed them often; and, other than that spectacular catch by just before the half, the WRs on his side didn't make much noise. His awareness blew up a screen to deep in Tampa territory. He also blanketed Bryant on an early deep pass. And other than getting turned around on a long run by , Newman did what corners are supposed to do in defending the run: he kept it inside.
Honorable Mention: Keith Brooking, Gerald Sensabaugh
David Buehler - I don't know what was more exciting about the kickoffs on Sunday: their distance, or the fact that Dallas scored so often that we got to see a good sampling of Buehler's work. As Raf points out in his post on the Cowboys' special teams units, three of his seven kickoffs went for touchbacks and only one return made it past the 30-yard line. On those that crossed the goalline, you could almost sense the returners' hesitation to bring the ball out. That split second gives the coverage units a slight advantage.
Honorable Mention: Mat McBriar, Gerald Sensabaugh
Jason Garrett - Did this guy mix it up, or what? I had a hard time keeping track of where everybody was lined up, or who was in the backfield. I can't even imagine how confused the Tampa defenders were. Creating mismatches by putting Bennett out wide allowed Romo to find his WRs in one-on-ones with safeties. Together, they made a goat out of poor Sabby Piscitelli.
The little tomfoolery with the Razorback didn't amount to much, but it kept the defense guessing. When Garrett saw that Tampa Bay came out physical, he challenged their coverage schemes. He challenged their players, found their weaknesses, and took advantage. Then, when they were reeling from confusion, he hit them in the mouth with a little MB3. Knockout play-calling, Coach.
Honorable Mention: Joe DeCamillis
Who gets your game balls?