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Cowboys vs. Broncos: The Game's Biggest Plays

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    There's plenty of people to blame for Sunday's Cowboys loss, but Tony Romo isn't one of them.

    With a 51-48 loss to the Broncos, the Cowboys became the first team since 1983 to score 48 points in a loss, according to Richie Whitt. Despite that, quarterback Tony Romo probably played the best game of his career. With 506 yards and five touchdowns on only 36 attempts, Romo averaged an unimaginable 14.1 YPA. He outplayed Peyton Manning in just about every way, and it’s just unfortunate that his lone mistake came at such a critical time.

    Let’s break down the impact of that interception and a few other plays. . .

    Tony Romo’s INT
    Romo’s interception was obviously costly, but here’s how much; prior to the play, the Cowboys owned a 67 percent to win the game. After it, the odds dwindled to just 16 percent. And in reality, it was probably worse than that because generic win probability numbers don’t account for specific game situations. Neither the Broncos nor Cowboys could consistently stop one another, so the game was bound to be a whoever-has-the-ball-last-wins sort of contest.

    Allowing a Touchdown
    Should the Cowboys have allowed a touchdown on purpose when the Broncos faced third-and-inches at the Cowboys’ two-yard line? I don’t think so. It’s a close call, but there was still hope that the defense could make a stop in the backfield and hold Denver to a field goal try.

    In my opinion, the coaches should have told the defense to try to make a tackle for a loss, but if you don’t immediately get a push into the backfield, let the running back score. Allowing a first down but not a touchdown was the worst possible outcome for Dallas, although I don’t think the coaches made a horrible decision in telling the defense to play it straight up.

    Dez Bryant’s Big Catch
    With the game tied at 41 in the fourth quarter, Romo found Dez Bryant down the sideline for a 79-yard catch, setting up a first-and-goal. Before the play, Dallas owned a 44 percent chance to win the game. After it, their win probability skyrocketed to 82 percent. It was at its highest—90 percent—in the first quarter when the ‘Boys held a 14-0 lead.

    Tony Romo’s Big Day
    Just to give you a quick synopsis of Romo’s dominance, check out how he compared to Manning in a few important advanced stats:

    • EPA: Romo 28.6, Manning 27.4
    • YPA: Romo 14.1, Manning 9.9
    • Adjusted YPA: Romo 10.6, Manning 8.8

    Great numbers, but Dallas is still a 2-3 team.