Sunday, December 30, 2012
Halftime thoughts: Romo rocky, Skins run
By Dan Graziano
LANDOVER, Md. -- It's possible some early nerves were on display here in the first half of this NFC East title game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw two first-quarter interceptions, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III looked uncharacteristically inaccurate and Redskins kicker Kai Forbath missed a 37-yard field goal -- the first miss of his young NFL career.
But in the second quarter, things settled down a bit. The Cowboys struck first with a 13-play, 89-yard drive that ate up the first half of the second quarter and culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Jason Witten. The Redskins answered with an eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that featured six rushing attempts and two pass attempts and culminated with a 17-yard touchdown run by Alfred Morris, who has 92 yards on 13 carries already in the game. The score is tied 7-7 at halftime.
The lines appear somewhat clearly drawn. Griffin is limited by his knee injury and the brace he's wearing on that right knee, but the Redskins are determined to pound the ball against a Dallas defense that's missing six starters and can't keep injured DeMarcus Ware on the field every play. Their wide receivers are blocking well, and Morris is finding holes. Griffin is just 5-for-11 for 43 yards and on track for what could be his worst game of the year.
The Cowboys, who saw Miles Austin limp off with an ankle injury, need Romo to protect the ball better and find Dez Bryant down the field against the one-on-one coverage he's seeing from DeAngelo Hall. Dallas could stand to run the ball more with DeMarco Murray, but they haven't found success doing so. That means it's on Romo, who had just three interceptions in his previous eight games before throwing two in the first quarter tonight. Of the five interceptions Romo has thrown in his past nine games, four have come against the Redskins. Romo is 10-for-16 for 119 yards after going 9-for-11 for 96 in the second quarter.
The Cowboys get the ball to begin the second half, and their ability to responsibly and effectively move the ball against Washington's defense on this opening drive will likely tell us a lot. During its current six-game winning streak, one thing the Redskins have done especially well is make halftime adjustments on defense.