Dallas Cowboys: Cleveland Browns

Weeden: 'This is the best thing for me'

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
10:22
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Growing up in Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.

Now Weeden is a Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.

Weeden
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed -- a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”

Weeden will work behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton (provided he continues to play in 2014) and work with Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and Wade Wilson.

He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.

“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”

Weeden comes to the Cowboys with no pressure. The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.

“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”

Cowboys announce hiring of RB coach

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
4:20
PM ET
The Dallas Cowboys announced the hiring of running backs coach Gary Brown on Monday.

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Brown replaces Skip Peete, who was let go after the 2012 season. Peete was later hired by the Chicago Bears.

Brown spent the last five seasons as the running backs coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Last season under Brown, No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, tying a franchise record for a rookie with three 100-yard games.

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Brown takes over a unit that finished 31st in the NFL in rushing with 1,265 yards, the lowest in a 16-game season in franchise history. DeMarco Murray led the Cowboys with 663 rushing yards on 161 carries in 2012. However, he missed six games with a severely sprained foot.

Backup Felix Jones is a free agent and most likely won't return. The Cowboys also have Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar on the roster.

Cowboys to hire Gary Brown as RB coach

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
12:07
PM ET
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Chris Mortensen joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Cowboys' chances of making the Super Bowl and where Tony Romo ranks among NFL quarterbacks.

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The Dallas Cowboys will hire Gary Brown as their running backs coach, according to a source.

Brown replaces Skip Peete, who was released with a year remaining on his contract.

Brown joins the Cowboys after spending four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. In 2010, Brown coached Peyton Hillis, who became just the third running back in Browns history to rush for 11 or more touchdowns in a season.

Brown's hiring most likely completes Dallas' offensive coaching staff.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett left Mobile, Ala., with the rest of his coaching staff Wednesday afternoon after doing some extensive interviews for several vacant positions.

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Galloway & Company discuss the idea that the Cowboys are setting up for Jon Gruden. Randy Galloway asks who would you rather have -- Tony Romo or Joe Flacco?

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Garrett needs to hire a running backs coach after the team elected not to retain Skip Peete, who took over the same position for the Chicago Bears.

The Cowboys have expressed interest in several coaches, including Sam Gash, Gary Brown and Tim Spencer.

Gash was the Detroit Lions' running backs coach from 2007-12 and played for five NFL teams.

Brown was in charge of the Cleveland Browns' running backs from 2009-12. Brown played for three NFL teams.

Spencer, who used to play with the San Diego Chargers, led the Chicago Bears running backs since 2004 until he was let go after the 2012 season.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he didn't expect to finalize the coaching staff with Garrett while they were in Mobile, site of the Senior Bowl. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said the defensive coaching staff is complete. Kiffin added just one coach, Rod Marinelli, to coach the defensive line.

Is Jason Garrett guaranteeing a win?

December, 3, 2012
12/03/12
6:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys coach Jason Garrett provided an interesting answer Monday on a question about his team's next game.

The Cowboys have won two of their last three home games as they head into the final four weeks of the regular season. Based on its play in those three games, Garrett was asked if he expects his team to beat Cincinnati on Sunday.

"Absolutely," Garrett said. "We are focused on beating Cincinnati, that is our job this week. That's the task at hand. So we will prepare as best we can and go up there and play our best football game."

Garrett is never one to guarantee victories, unlike Rob Ryan. The Cowboys defensive coordinator guaranteed a victory in Atlanta, but the Falcons won 19-13.

We believe Garrett was speaking in general terms and not guaranteeing a victory. How could he?

The Cowboys have been outscored 58-13 in the first half against their last three opponents, who all started rookie quarterbacks.

Dallas trailed, 14-3, Sunday night against Philadelphia, 28-3 to Washington and 13-0 to Cleveland before mounting comebacks. The Cowboys' rally attempt failed against Washington on Thanksgiving Day.

Jermey Parnell could start on Thanksgiving Day

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
1:05
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Tyron Smith didn't practice on Wednesday with a high ankle sprain allowing Jermey Parnell to get more snaps with the first-team offense.

Parnell replaced Smith in the first half of Sunday's overtime victory against Cleveland. It was Parnell's most extensive action since the preseason where he started the final preseason game against Miami. Parnell said it was slow in comparison to what he went through against the Browns.

"It was a big shocker and I didn’t take a rep in practice all week," he said. "But you got to be ready."

Thursday afternoon, Parnell is slated, if Smith doesn't play, to get his first NFL start in a regular season game.

"Anytime you get a chance to start in this business you have to take advantage of your opportunity," Parnell said.

This week while Smith has been watching on the side, he's given Parnell advice on what to do when he's facing right defensive end and former Cowboy Stephen Bowen.

"Stick with the fundamentals," Parnell said of what Smith told him. "Stay square, keep a base and go out there and have fun." Later he said, "extra film work helps. Worry about the reps on the field, that's about it."

The instability of the offense line has come from the interior where three different centers have started. But the Cowboys moved right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau to center with Ryan Cook out and inserted Derrick Dockery to Bernadeau's spot.

Now one of the tackle spots has some issues and the Cowboys have been praising the practice work of Parnell. In games, he receives some limited snaps on offense when the Cowboys want to use a big package on run plays.

"Just got to be ready whenever coach calls you," Parnell said. "In this business, it changes in-and-out. You just got to be ready."

Cowboys' priority must be to fix O-line

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
9:45
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones has one task this offseason: Fix the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line.

Nothing else matters.

Not signing Tony Romo to a new deal. Not courting Sean Payton.

Nothing.

Making this raggedy offensive line a playoff-caliber unit must be Jerry's top priorty.

Got it?

And if Jerry balks for any reason whatsoever, then Stephen Jones should lock his pops in the wine cellar of Jerry's mansion until the job is completed.

Watching the Cleveland Browns' average defensive line dominate the Cowboys' offensive line simply removed any doubt about the club's top offseason priority.

The Browns sacked Romo seven times. They knocked him down nine times.

Ridiculous.

To see even more reasons why, click here.
IRVING - There were 148 plays in the Dallas Cowboys’ 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. And they needed 17 points in one of the weirdest fourth quarters the Cowboys have played in a while.

Think about it.

The game was lost, then it was won, then it was lost, then the Cowboys forced overtime before finally winning it.

Here are five plays that shaped the game:

Play: Brandon Weeden incompletion
Situation: Third-and-9 from Dallas 33
Score: Cleveland, 7-0
Time: 12:20 left in second quarter
Taylor's Take: Josh Cooper was wide open in the left flat against the Cowboys’ zone defense. All Weeden had to do was throw him a catchable pass and the Browns would’ve had a first down at the Dallas 15, at worst, and a chance to put the Cowboys in a two touchdown hole. Instead, he sailed a pass over Cooper’s head and the Browns settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead.

Play: Orlando Scandrick personal foul
Situation:Third-and-8 from Cleveland 45
Score: Cleveland, 10-0
Time: 7:04 left in second quarter
Taylor's Take: Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan needed a stop because the way Cleveland’s defense was playing, a touchdown might’ve put the game out of reach. So he gambled and sent a blitz from the slot, something Orlando excels at doing. Scrandrick helped force an incompletion with his pressure, but he he hit Weeden on the head with his forearm resulting in yet another dumb penalty for this team. Given a first down, the Browns drove for a field goal.

Play: Brandon Weeden sacked
Situation: Third-and-9 from Dallas 41
Score: Cleveland, 13-0
Time: 10:31 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: A touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter would’ve eliminated what little running game the Cowboys had and made them one-dimensional. Dallas had to have a stop and on the biggest third down - at the time - of the game, DeMarcus Ware beat left tackle Joe Thomas off the snap and teamed with Jason Hatcher to sack Brandon Weeden and force a punt.

Play: Gerald Sensabugh forces fumble
Situation: Third-and-5 from Cleveland 12
Score: Cleveland, 13-10
Time: 12:54 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Trent Richardson had been running through Cowboys’ defenders all game, when he wasn’t making them miss. So when he caught a pass in the flat and nothing but Sensabaugh standing between him and a first down, no one thought he wasn’t going to get it. But Sensabaugh delivered a great hit, stopped Richardson in his tracks and forced a fumble that Cleveland recovered. The Browns punted and the Cowboys drove for the go-ahead touchdown.

Play: Kevin Ogletree draws personal foul
Situation: Second-and-6 from Dallas 24
Score: Cleveland, 20-17
Time: 1:03 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Romo needed to move the Cowboys at least 50 yards to get Dan Bailey a 49-yard field goal attempt. He has not missed inside 50 yards this season. Romo threw a pass behind Ogletree, who was running an out pattern toward the right sideline. Ogletree turned back to catch the ball, and T.J. Ward drilled him in the chest with his shoulder and dislodged the ball. It was a violent hit, but perfectly legal based on NFL rules. Still, Ward was penalized for unnecessary roughness and the 15 yards kick-started the Cowboys’ drive.

So what's your key play? Vote using the ranker above.

Dallas Cowboys: Week 12 player rankings

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
10:00
AM ET


IRVING - The Dallas Cowboys' defense has been ranked among the NFL's top 10 for much of the season, but if this team is going to make the playoffs the offense must be more productive.

So it’s a good sign Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are ranked higher than they’ve been all season. Their performances Sunday helped the Cowboys win a game they seemed determined to lose.

Each week, during the season, I rank my top 10 players on the roster based on their performances this season.

1. DeMarcus Ware: Cleveland LT Joe Thomas kicked his butt in the first half. In the second half, Ware was a difference-maker with a sack, two key pressures that forced incompletions and a key stop on their goalline stand.
Last Week: 1

2. Anthony Spencer: He moved ahead of Carter with a strong all-around performance that included a sack, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He’s made plays in the passing game each of the last two weeks.
Last Week: 3

3. Bruce Carter: Solid game from Carter, who has not missed any of the 337 snaps since Sean Lee was lost for the season with an injured toe. He’s the team’s most consistent form tackler
Last Week: 2

4. Tony Romo: The quarterback has had a passer rating of more 90.0 in five of the last six games. He’s gone a season-high 120 passes without an interception and he’s doing it behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
Last Week: 5

5. Jason Witten: The Cowboys’ most consistent player has at least six catches in each of the last six games and has caught 86 percent of the passes (72 of 84) directed toward him.
Last Week: 4

6. Brandon Carr: Another solid game and he had a key pass deflection in the second quarter, when the Browns were trying to bury the Cowboys.
Last Week: 6

7. Jason Hatcher: Hatcher was easily the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman against Cleveland. He does a nice job of running stunts with Ware and tied for the team lead with six tackles.
Last Week: 9

8. Dez Bryant: Slowly, he’s becoming the difference-maker the Cowboys thought he would be when they drafted him. Bryant has six catches of more than 28 yards in the past four games, and he was easily their best receiver against the Browns. He made contested catches, chain-moving catches, scored one touchdown and set up another with big plays.
Last Week: 10

9. Jay Ratliff: A solid game from Ratliff, but he’s had two dumb personal foul penalties this season. As a leader, he must be smarter than that on a team with little margin for error.
Last Week: 7

10. Gerald Sensabaugh: He put a form tackle on Cleveland running back Trent Richardson in the open field that should be shown to high school and college players everywhere. He’s made more big hits this season than his other three seasons in Dallas combined.
Last Week: NR

A Look Back: Nightmare for Doug Free

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
1:15
PM ET


IRVING, Texas – With a quick turnaround before Thursday’s game against Washington, we give you a quick turnaround of the weekly A Look Back post from Sunday’s win against Cleveland.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks about the play of the offensive line and how happy he is that the team came away with the win.

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We’ll start with the offense:

Tony Romo took a beating with a career-high seven sacks. Doug Free had a hand in four of them. Jermey Parnell had a hand in two. Derrick Dockery and Mackenzy Bernadeau share blame for the seventh with most of it on Dockery for failing to help his center.

Free’s day was a nightmare. On the first sack he allowed he whiffed on defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who was coming off the edge. On the second, he was late to recognize a blitz and missed the chance to pick off Kaluka Maiava or Usama Young. You might want to put some of it on Felix Jones, too. On the third, he and Dockery failed to pick up a simple twist as Ahtyba Rubin dropped Romo. The last one came in overtime when he was overpowered by linebacker Craig Robertson.

Parnell missed Frostee Rucker on the sack-fumble of Romo, but the quarterback might have been able to get rid of the ball sooner. Still, Parnell got over-extended and could not keep up with Rucker, who swiped the ball away from Romo from behind. The Cowboys had a seven-man protection against Cleveland’s five-man pressure there, which is not good.

Parnell’s first extended playing time was a mixed bag of good and bad and very little in between.

Three of Cleveland’s sacks came on four-man pressure, three came on five-man pressure and one came on a six-man pressure.

On to the defense:

If Rob Ryan was going to go down Sunday it was not going to be because he went after Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys had more three-man pressures than five- or six-man pressures against the Browns rookie quarterback.

Weeden was 5 of 8 when the Cowboys brought three guys, including a touchdown to Benjamin Watson. Ryan’s version of flooding the zone did not work to well.

Ryan brought four-man pressure 24 times, resulting in both sacks of Weeden. Ryan only brought five or more five times. The one time he brought six came on the Browns first drive of the second half. Safety Charlie Peprah went for the kill shot on Trent Richardson on a throw to the flat and missed giving the running back an easy first down.

Watson’s second touchdown of the game came with the defense late to align. Either Ryan was late with the call or it was not properly relayed to the unit from the huddle quick enough. Safety Danny McCray, who had an outstanding game otherwise, was slow to get on Watson at the snap and gave up inside leverage on the seam route even though Gerald Sensabaugh was outside for some help.

If you’re handing out game balls to the defense, Sensabaugh, McCray and Anthony Spencer should be at the top of the list.

In charting the press coverage of corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, you see a sign of Ryan’s game plan. The Cowboys played full press only five times. They played off 43 times and half press 20 times.

Postgame audio: Cowboys-Browns

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
1:08
PM ET
Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo talks about playing better down the stretch and limiting mistakes.

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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addresses the media after the team's Week 11 win against the Browns.

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Cowboys TE Jason Witten talks about performing in the two-minute drill and playing to a higher offensive standard.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks about the play of the offensive line and how happy he is that the team came away with the win.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant talks about the coverage the Browns played against him and his career day.

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Cowboys DE Marcus Spears talks about playing good defense in a do-or-die situation.

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Fullback Lawrence Vickers talks about the Cowboys' slow start against the Browns and moving on to the next game.

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Smith and Murray might not play Thursday

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
1:01
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Following the Cowboys' 23-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon, owner Jerry Jones said left tackle Tyrone Smith suffered a high-ankle sprain and he wasn't sure about the availability of starting running back DeMarco Murray.

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Jones didn't know about the severity of Smith's ankle and more tests were needed for an official diagnosis.

Update: A source said Monday afternon it's doubtful if Smith or Murray play against the Redskins.

However, team executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday morning he doesn't believe Smith or Murray would play Thursday against the Washington Redskins.

"I'm dying to know right now," Jones said of their availability on KRLD-FM. "But I'm really thinking it’s probably a long shot for either one of those guys to play."

If that's the case, Jeremy Parnell will start for Smith and Felix Jones will get his sixth consecutive start over Murray.

"My expectations would be that it’s a long shot for either one of them," Stephen Jones said.

Dez Bryant: 'Not like me to run out of bounds'

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
12:58
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dez Bryant has his flaws, but being fearful of contact isn’t one of them.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant talks about the coverage the Browns played against him and his career day.

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That’s why it was so surprising to see Bryant step out of bounds a yard short of the sticks on a second down in the first half of Sunday’s win.

The Cowboys coaches have tried to get Bryant to be more careful picking his spots to fight for extra yards, teaching him that it’s sometimes better to preserve your body than to take on a gang of tacklers. This was a rare instance of Bryant choosing poorly to avoid contact.

“Oh, man, I seen where we was at and I was like, ‘Damn!’ I didn’t mean to do that,” Bryant said. “It’s not like me to run out of bounds. I seen like four or five guys coming and stepped out. I didn’t see the first down marker. That’s my bad. I should have known where we was at on the field.”

Bryant avoided contact on the play but not the wrath of a frustrated home crowd.

“I heard the boos from the crowd,” Bryant said. “That hurt my heart.”

A quick whistle hurt Bryant’s ears the next time he was in a similar situation near the sideline. Bryant fought through a few tacklers before breaking free, but it was ruled that his forward progress was stopped, preventing a potential touchdown.

“That was too quick,” Bryant said. “I felt like I broke those tackles and he blew the whistle too quick. Somebody told me that (the official) fell. Did the guy fall? That’s probably why he blew the whistle. That’s not fair to me, but hey …”

It’s also not fair to question Bryant’s courage because he stepped out of bounds once when he should have lowered his shoulder. It might be the only time he’ll ever err on the side of caution.

At least Jason Garrett wasn't stubborn

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
12:52
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – So you want to call plays in the NFL?

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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addresses the media after the team's Week 11 win against the Browns.

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Try doing it when you can’t run the ball and can barely protect the quarterback. That was Jason Garrett’s dilemma in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win against Cleveland.

The Cowboys ran it 19 times for 53 yards, excluding two Tony Romo scrambles. Felix Jones had 43 yards. Lance Dunbar had 10 yards.

There was simply not a lot of room to run for the running backs, and you can’t blame Tyron Smith’s absence. Smith was in for five running plays before getting hurt and had three minus plays by my count. Jermey Parnell was OK as a replacement but he had two holding penalties, one of which was wiped out because Ed Hochuli decided to give one penalty to Dez Bryant.

Jones’ best runs came in the second half, including a 9-yard gain in the fourth quarter that Garrett never came back to with Jason Witten sealing the edge, Miles Austin blocking in the slot and Doug Free getting to the second level.

For those complaining about the runs out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter, the line and tight ends could get no push and fullback Lawrence Vickers could not help either. Passing in that situation, however, would not have been worse than running it.

This is where Garrett deserves some credit as a play caller: he found something and stuck with it. The stop route worked just about whenever the Cowboys wanted it with Bryant, Austin, Dwayne Harris or Kevin Ogletree running it. They found a little success with it in the second quarter and it just got better in the second half. The Browns did not have an answer or chose not to look for one.

The stubborn thing to do would have been to continue to run and get nothing but a headache.

Garrett didn’t do that Sunday but it’s not an easy way to make a living.

Tony Romo doesn't protect the ball

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
12:05
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo hasn't thrown an interception in three weeks but his fourth quarter turnover, a fumble, his third of the season, gives him 16 turnovers for 2012.

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Cowboys QB Tony Romo talks about playing better down the stretch and limiting mistakes.

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That's a bad number for a quarterback whom the team believes is an elite player with one year remaining on his contract. Romo hasn't protected the football well with his decision making but his turnover issues weren't a problem of late until the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns.

With the Cowboys ahead, 17-13, with about 5:20 to play in the game, Romo moved up in the pocket and failed to keep the ball close to his body. It's interesting this happened because coach Jason Garrett was talking about how Romo keeps the ball close to his body to avoid defenders from knocking it away while he's in the pocket. But Romo was trying to avoid the rush of defensive end Frostee Rucker when things went badly. Romo kept the ball away from his body, allowing Rucker to swing his arms down to knock the ball loose.

"We were right at the cusp of field goal range and I'm thinking of throwing the ball away to the right," Romo said. "As I slide, I was thinking after Dez (Bryant) came inside, there was no throw away, it would be intentional grounding to throw it to the left. I feel pressure and I work right to try and get the ball outside over the guys head or whatever I could do. In the process of doing that, I need to hold onto the ball and not let the guy come from behind and let the ball come out."

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