- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Washington Redskins failed to apply enough pressure on Tony Romo throughout the game Sunday, but especially on the final drive. In the past they have taken more chances against him by blitzing in late-game situations. It failed in a loss at Dallas two years ago. It worked in forcing an interception in last season's regular-season finale.
But there were no blitzes on the final drive. And the Redskins’ four-man rush failed, once again, to produce. Romo was never even hit on the final series. Is that Jim Haslett’s fault? Don’t know; I do know that in the past coach Mike Shanahan will make defensive calls -- or at least say what he wants run.
Anyway, here’s a look at Dallas’ winning drive and how much time Romo had to throw.
First-and-10, Dallas 13-yard line. The Redskins rush four, with linebacker Darryl Tapp, aligned on the left outside Ryan Kerrigan, stunting to the middle. Romo unloaded a pass to receiver Terrance Williams in 2.4 seconds. Romo was not close to being hit.
Second-and-10, Dallas 13: Tapp lined up on the right side, this time with Kerrigan still on the left. Both looped inside through the interior. Both actually had decent push, too, but the ends -- Barry Cofield and Chris Baker -- failed to generate any push, so the pocket remained clean enough. After 3.8 seconds, Romo connected with Williams, facing man coverage from corner David Amerson, for 15 yards.
First-and-10, Dallas 28: Tapp again was on the right side. He tried a spin move against left tackle Tyron Smith, but it did nothing. There was little pressure. But after 3.3 seconds, Romo threw incomplete to Dez Bryant as cornerback DeAngelo Hall tipped the ball away.
Second-and-10, Dallas 28: This was the killer, but it shows why extending a play is so vital. The Redskins showed seven at the line, as they had done a couple times throughout the game. They had run various plays off this look, which resulted in pressures or at least some confusion by the Dallas front. Not this time. Tapp aligned over the right guard and about a half yard deeper than the others along the front and just inside Kerrigan. Safety Brandon Meriweather was outside Kerrigan. But they only rushed four, with Kerrigan and Tapp running a little stunt. Kerrigan moved to the inside, but Tapp did not get too wide nor did he generate any push. With no contain rush on the outside, Romo could escape to his right and, after 5.1 seconds, unleash a 51-yard pass to Williams. It did not help that cornerback Josh Wilson slipped and fell on the play.
First-and-10, Redskins’ 21: Tough one to defend with any amount of rushers as Romo threw a smoke route to Bryant on the right side (in 0.9 seconds). Hall missed the tackle and Bryant gained 17 yards.
Fourth-and-goal, Redskins’ 10: This was a basic four-man rush, with all four running straight up field. There was no real pressure, but Romo did not have any open targets, either. Baker started to drive the right guard back for the start of a solid rush. But Baker lost his footing and a gap was created for Romo to run through. Kerrigan was lined up wide left and was chipped by the running back. He then rushed contain. Meanwhile, after Baker fell, Romo ran through the opening and hit DeMarco Murray for the winning touchdown. Romo extended the play for 5.0 seconds.