Roy E. Williams had managed to build up a lot of goodwill with the Cowboys fanbase over the 2010 season. Sadly, he's going to lose it. The Dallas Cowboys were on the brink of a huge win over the New Orleans Saints, only to see it snatched away at the end, 30-27. After under-producing since his trade from Detroit, Roy Williams had actually turned in a decent performance in 2010. He started hot with Tony Romo, then cooled, but still was making difficult and important catches. Now, he has fumbled away what would have surely have been one of the great comebacks in Cowboys history. The fates are cruel on a day of thanks.
All the blame can't rest squarely on Roy Williams' shoulders. The Cowboys bumbled and stumbled their way through a mistake-filled first half, looking more like the Pre-Garrett Cowboys than the team we've seen in the past two weeks. From the first play of the game, when Mike Jenkins wasn't ready in coverage, the Cowboys spent the first half giving away the game, falling behind 20-6 at halftime. Their list of sins include: Alan Ball using terrible technique, getting flagged for pass interference and still not stopping the catch on a long bomb. Jon Kitna throwing an interception right into the hands of a defensive lineman. Andre Gurode snapping the ball too early. The Cowboys trying for a fourth and one instead of taking a field goal, and missing on a curious call of a sweep to Marion Barber. Jason Garrett accepting a Saints holding penalty on a third down incompletion, instead of forcing the Saints to punt, or take a risky shot at a fourth and short.
This was reminiscent of the Wade Phillips version of the team. And it looked like the Cowboys were going to get run out of the stadium.
The second half was a completely different story. Dallas came out and immediately scored on a long end-around run by Miles Austin. Jesse Holley forced a fumble on punt coverage which Dallas converted into seven points. Jason Witten kept drives alive. The defense managed to get the Saints offense under control, limiting them to three second half points before the final minutes of the game. Dallas got some timely pressure on Drew Brees and managed to put him off his game just a bit. Then, Gerald Sensabaugh picked off a pass with Dallas trailing 23-20 deep into the fourth quarter. The Cowboys offense moved the ball to the goal line, and a Tashard Choice touchdown finally put the Cowboys in front for the first time in the game at 27-23.
Nobody thought the Saints would roll over, but the Cowboys had all the momentum at this point. When they stopped the Saints on the ensuing drive, a few crucial plays by the offense could nail down the win. Cue Roy Williams. On a third and six from the Dallas 42-yard line, Roy Williams caught a short slant and turned it into a long gain (47 yards). The play should have set Dallas up at the New Orleans 11-yard line, where a FG would have made it a seven point lead, and a touchdown would have sealed the deal.
Cue Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who managed to track Roy down, strip the ball from him while tackling him, and recover the ball - all in one motion. It was a fantastic football play - as long as you weren't a Dallas Cowboys supporter.
Roy Williams could have built up so much goodwill with the fans, but now he'll be remembered for the big turnover that lost the game.