Friday, September 28, 2012
Bears focus on containing mobile Romo
By Jeff Dickerson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tony Romo's lifetime numbers in two career starts against the Chicago Bears (703 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions, 65.1 percent completion percentage) are a bit misleading.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is dangerous on the move.
That's because the Bears' defense essentially bottled up Romo and the Dallas Cowboys' offense when the teams last met in 2010, holding them to one touchdown and pair of field goals. Dez Bryant returned a punt for touchdown to account for Dallas' other score. On paper it looked good for Romo, who passed for 374 yards on 51 attempts. But in reality he was soundly outplayed by his counterpart Jay Cutler, who led the Bears to an impressive 27-20 road win.
It was a far cry from when Romo rode into Chicago in 2007 and lit the Bears up with 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a Cowboys’ blowout win on national television.
Having faced Romo twice and witnessing two very different results, the Bears’ defense knows the key to slowing down Romo: Keep him inside the pocket as often as possible.
"On the run he's very accurate," Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said.
In fact, Romo's 66.3 percent completion percentage last season ranked second in Cowboys franchise history behind only Hall of Famer Troy Aikman. Although Romo has made his share of mistakes in big games over the years, he is still the third-highest rated passer (96.6) in the history of the NFL and has a record of 49-31 as a starting quarterback.
Much of that success can be attributed to Romo's unique ability to avoid the rush and keep plays alive with his feet.
"He can get out of that pocket real quick and create more time," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "That's something they practice a lot because he's so good at getting out of the pocket.
"You have to be locked in on your job and you have to be disciplined. When he starts to scramble you got to find a receiver and plaster him. Our defensive line has to keep him in the pocket. We have to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket and not allow him to create more time. Because if you get enough time on any defense you'll find a hole."
The Dallas offense has been stuck in neutral the past two weeks while the Bears’ veteran defense seems to keep getting stronger. Behind a chronically penalized offensive line, Romo has tossed four touchdowns to three interceptions and been sacked seven times. The Cowboys’ 2-1 record is more a testament to their defense, not the offense, much like the Bears.
On the fip side, the Bears sacked Rams quarterback Sam Bradford six times in Week 3 and forced a pair of turnovers which tied them for seventh in the NFL with a plus-three turnover ratio.
"This is going to be an incredible challenge for us," Romo said. "They’re really good up front, they’re playing really good on the back end, and their linebackers are always playing good. So this is going to be a formidable opponent for us, and it’s going to be a great challenge.
"They play so well as a unit right now. When you look at it, they just know where their weaknesses are and where their strengths are, and they do a great job. They’re getting a great pass rush up front. And it allows those guys to play fast and react and do the things that allow them to get their hands on the ball. It’s just a very, very tough unit to go against."