Cowboys' 3rd-and-20 Conversion Punctuates Early-Season Surprises | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Cowboys' 3rd-and-20 Conversion Punctuates Early-Season Surprises

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 12: Wide receiver Terrance Williams #83 of the Dallas Cowboys makes a catch for a first down in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 12, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The Cowboys defeated the Seahawks 30-23. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

    While you’re busy jostling for room on the crowded Cowboys’ bandwagon, time for some admissions.

    As in, no way you thought the Cowboys would emerge from an 0-4 preseason to a 5-1 start. No way you thought DeMarco Murray would have more rushing yards than every NFL team except the Ravens and Steelers. No way you thought the Cowboys would beat the Seahawks in Seattle.

    And, longest of long-shots, no way did you think Tony Romo would convert 3rd-and-20.

    Pinch yourself, it’s all happening.

    On the Cowboys’ play of the year that led to the NFL’s win of the year, it’s difficult to decide which was more impressive: Romo’s throw or Terrance Williams’ catch?

    Trailing by three with less than five minutes remaining in a stadium where the defending Super Bowl champions had won 19 of 20, the Cowboys faced an improbable 3rd-and-20. How improbable? NFL teams were a combined 0 of 55 faced with that situation in the first five weeks.

    Make it 1 of 55.

    As Romo dropped back to pass, Seattle’s Bruce Irvin beat Lance Dunbar’s failed block and had a free lane off the right end to the quarterback. But, as he did a week earlier to the Texans’ J.J. Watt, Romo instinctively spun to his right and avoided a diving Irvin. Romo then side-stepped another rusher and again avoided Irvin, who was now crawling and nipping at the quarterback’s heels. Romo moved up in the pocket and launched a pass to the right sideline to Williams. Or, was it intended for Jason Witten?

    Both were in the area, but the ball floated perfectly toward Williams and the sideline. The receiver caught the ball well over the sideline, but deftly managed to drag both his feet barely inbounds. The Seahawks challenged. The fans stood in disbelief. The result was a 23-yard gain for the ages.

    Three Murray runs later the Cowboys gobbled up 46 yards and took the lead in the 30-23 victory.

    “I think when you turn and come out of movement, you just try and find guys,” Romo said in his post-game press conference. “You don’t just find Terrance, you find the defensive backs. You find where they are and then find out which guys are going to get a first down, which guys are not on your team. So you put it over the first guy and away from the second guy,” Romo said, “and Terrance just did all the rest. He made a great play.”

    Admitted head coach Jason Garrett, “There aren't a lot of plays on the call sheet for third-and-20. But Tony's just got such a feel in the pocket. When people are around him he can extend plays.”

    To me, Romo's part in the play was even more impressive than Williams' because it was three escapes and a perfect throw. And, while we're at it, make that two highlight-film spins for Romo in two weeks, punctuated by two classic catches by Williams and Dez Bryant in two heart-pounding wins.

    And, admit, neither you nor I saw this coming.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.