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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Behind Enemy Lines: Cowboys links

By John Keim

Once again after a brilliant outing, the focus is on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. But it’s mostly on the last throw he made -- an interception -- than on the five touchdowns. At least in the eyes of his critics.

Romo, though, has plenty of defenders in his locker room. Of course, they’re going to stick up for him publicly.

“In my eyes, Romo is a fighter," wide receiver Dez Bryant told Dallas reporters. "I don't think no quarterback in this league takes as much criticism as he takes, and he still goes out there and acts like he hasn't heard anything. I know he heard it, but he don't let it get to him. He goes out there and performs the best way he possibly can, and we're going to forever back him."

Romo’s coach, Jason Garrett, said he should have thrown to the checkdown. The problem with Romo is that he was on fire; my guess is at some point you feel you can complete every throw no matter how tight a window. Turns out that’s not the case. And Romo needs to channel his inner Peyton Manning.

*The stat for Romo’s critics: He’s 19-24 as a starter since 2010. The stat for his fans: His passer rating (114.3) is second in the NFL behind Denver’s Peyton Manning. Romo has 13 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 71.8 completion percentage. Meanwhile, Romo plows forward.

*Lost in the attention surrounding Romo? The putrid play of Dallas’ defense -- not just in this game, but in the first five. The Cowboys already have allowed three passers to surpass 400 yards, becoming the fourth team in NFL history to do so. With 11 games remaining. Yikes.

Sure, some of it stems from the quarterbacks Dallas has faced. But the Cowboys have defensive issues, ranging from adjusting to a new scheme to losing key players to subpar performances. And the pass rush produced 13 sacks in the first three games; two in the last two. End DeMarcus Ware hasn’t been as lethal.

*There are some excellent numbers on an ESPN.com breakdown of the Cowboys, from Romo’s passing stats out of an empty backfield -- they’re really good -- to the damage inflicted by tight ends and running backs against their defense -- it’s really bad. Take note; it'll make you sound smarter all week and during the game.

*Life in Jerry Jones' world. After calling Sunday’s loss a moral victory -- teams that are supposed to contend for a division title don’t have such games at home -- he offered support for coordinator Monte Kiffin. Jones wanted Rob Ryan gone so he’ll naturally defend Kiffin.