Sunday, November 15, 2009
Miscues throughout sink Dallas, 17-7
By Calvin Watkins
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On the last real drive of the day, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went to his best friend, tight end Jason Witten.
Romo's pass was intercepted by Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson at the goal line, ending the last real threat by the Cowboys' offense at Lambeau Field.
Romo, the kid from Burlington, Wis., who had family and friends cheering for him, slowly walked off the field as a crowd of 70,894 roared over his disappointment. As the defensive players jogged back onto the field, Terence Newman and Marcus Spears patted Romo.
The quarterback sat down on the bench alone, put on a wool cap and looked into the cool air wondering about a couple of things.
Dallas was beaten 17-7 by the Packers on Sunday. You can talk about the 17 points allowed by the Cowboys' defense, but the reality is it didn't lose this game.
Dallas scored only one touchdown in 11 drives and converted just three of 12 third-down plays, the second-worst percentage of the season (25 percent). It also set season lows in total yards (278) and rushing yards (61). Romo himself was sacked a career-high five times.
There were mistakes Sunday that had Romo deep in thought.
"One here, one there, but they're drive-enders," Romo said. "Each guy, I'm not picking on any one individually, everybody had their little thing that they did, whether it was mental or physical, that cost the unit over the course of the game. We need to look at ourselves and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Roy Williams had his best day as a Cowboys wide receiver. He had five catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. His score came with 38 seconds remaining in the game. It was Williams' first 100-yard game with the Cowboys and first since November 2007, when he played with the Detroit Lions.
But it was the plays Williams didn't make that were part of the Cowboys' offensive problems.
In the second quarter, Williams caught a nice deep pass from Romo but was stripped by Woodson at the Green Bay 30. Clay Matthews recovered the fumble, so the 42-yard gain resulted in nothing for the Cowboys.
"I don't know, I have no clue," Williams said of the cause of the fumble. "It kinda pisses me off. All I saw was the end zone."
Williams tried to make a move on Woodson, but in the process lost the ball.
Another key mistake by Williams came in the third quarter, when he beat his defender deep and Romo found him at the Packers' 35. The ball hit off of Williams' hands, which were up high, for an incompletion.
"Lost it in the lights, couldn't see," Williams said. "That's why I took my visor off, that's it. Went dead in the lights."
Williams said in last week's game in Philadelphia that he experienced problems with the lights in pregame warm-ups and took his visor off to get rid of the glare. This time his vision seemed fine until that misplay in the third quarter. Williams wears a visor to protect his contact lenses from coming out in case defenders poke him in the eye.
But Williams wasn't alone in making mistakes.
On the next play, Romo completed a 22-yard pass to running back Tashard Choice, but Witten was flagged for offensive pass interference. He bumped a Packers defender who was covering wide receiver Patrick Crayton, nullifying Choice's reception.
There were protection problems most of the day as Romo was battling to keep plays alive. He was hit on the blind side by Woodson, who seemed to be all over the place, forcing another fumble.
Miles Austin dropped a pass on the first drive of the game. Austin and Witten were in the same spot on another incompletion. Free safety Nick Collins jumped the route on a pass intended for Austin at the Cowboys' sideline.
"We had a lot of drops today," coach Wade Phillips said. "I'm not sure Tony was off as much as we had some drops and plays that we normally made or had been making. We didn't run the ball very well. We started off running the ball well, but we didn't run it well enough, especially on the road."
Now, the Cowboys have to bounce back against the Washington Redskins, who seemed to find new life with their win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Williams, the $45 million wideout who has been average this season, has found a groove here the last two weeks. He's got 10 catches for 180 yards and one touchdown. But Sunday against the Packers, his mistakes almost outweighed the good things he produced on the field.
"I'm an accountable guy," Williams said. "I lost this game for this football team, that's the way I feel."
Calvin Watkins covers the Dallas cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.