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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Look back: Rob Ryan's pressure

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas – Sorry for the delay on this week’s "A Look Back." Maybe we should call it "Better Late than Never" this week as we give a quick review of the Cowboys’ win last week at Philadelphia.

Once again, Rob Ryan relied on a four-man rush most of the time, even as people want to view him as a blitz-happy defensive coordinator. The Cowboys used a four-man rush 29 times against the Eagles, three-man pressure five times and brought five or more eight times.

Did things change drastically after Michael Vick suffered a concussion and was replaced by rookie Nick Foles?

Vick was in on 18 snaps and 10 pass calls. The Cowboys rushed three guys four times against Vick. They brought four-man pressure three times and three times they brought five or more guys. When they brought at least five guys Vick was 0-for-3. His final snap came on a screen in which Dallas brought pressure with Ernie Sims up the middle.

The Cowboys brought five men against Foles five times. DeMarcus Ware hit him on the first blitz, but the second time the Cowboys brought heat it was blocked enough for Foles to slide to his right and find Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard touchdown after a coverage bust by Charlie Peprah.

How did the offense hold up against Philadelphia’s pressure?

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles brought six-man pressure five times and twice the Eagles were able to sack Tony Romo. The Cowboys’ only completion against six-man pressure came on a deep sideline throw to Dez Bryant.

In the second half Bowles used that six-man pressure just once, and it led to a Romo throwaway.

Romo’s two touchdown passes came against four-man pressure. Overall, Romo completed 15-of-20 passes against four-man pressure, but the Cowboys were unable to get the ball down the field often. Romo’s deepest throw against four-man pressure was the 25-yarder to Miles Austin where Austin eluded three defenders and made something out of nothing.

The last time the Cowboys returned a punt for a TD before Sunday was Nov. 21, 2010 against Detroit when Bryan McCann alertly picked up a loose ball and ran 97 yards for the score. Dwayne Harris’ 78-yard return for a score was not a sign of great point-of-attack blocking but a sign of how the return is set up.

Vince Agnew and Orlando Scandrick did a nice job on the gunners to free Harris, though Agnew’s block was close to a penalty. Lance Dunbar and Eric Frampton double-teamed Riley Cooper out of the way as Harris reached the sideline, and Danny McCray took care of Mat McBriar.

That was really it as the other blockers did a nice job of setting up the return before Harris was able to get up to speed.

Can the Cowboys get another return for a touchdown? The last time they had multiple punt returns for a touchdown in a season also came in 2010.