This is not a thread to bash number 9 for his performance against the Saints. It's here to critique his play, for better or worse. A lot of things went wrong with the offense on Sunday night-- that much is obvious. Romo did not have the worst game of his career, but he was also pretty sub-par in his performance. (Scroll for conclusion). 2nd quarter: 2nd and 8, Saints up 14-10: This was a series that needed to go well. It was apparent what type of game this was going to be. The Cowboys were going to have to put up points to keep pace with the Saints. And after a nice TD drive behind Murray, this follow up drive needed to be equally as impressive. However, it appeared that the Saints had caught on and were keying in on Murray as evidenced by his modest gain on 1st down. This was Romo's time to step up and make some plays. Romo opts to pass to Terrance Williams instead of a wide open Bryant on a slant that would've been a sure 1st down. Instead, we see Rob's amoeba defense show up for the first time on third and long, and eventual 3 and out. 2nd quarter: 2nd and 2, Saints up 21-10 Okay. It looks like it's about to get ugly since our defense can't stop the Saints. But Garrett wisely uses timeouts on defense in order to give the Cowboys a shot to counter going into half time. Romo starts off well, hitting Witten for an 8 yard gain. But 2nd and 2 sees bad execution from number 9, on honestly, the best play I've seen this offense run in a while. As you can see, you've got Harris and Beasley working back to the ball with the attention of 3 Saints defenders and a hesitant CB deciding on whether to keep trailing Williams. Because of this, they have opened up space for Williams (at the bottom of the screen) in the center of the field with room to run. Meanwhile Dez is running a clear-out route, dragging the CB and the safety deep, while Witten is cutting to the outside in the vacated space. And the pocket? Pretty clean. A beautiful play where a few options could've given us a first down, one that could've given us a potential big play (Williams)... what could go wrong? SAME DOWN ...and Romo throws behind Williams and a little high. Yes, with a still clean pocket. This should've been a gain of at least 25. The next play featured more good routes, but failed to convert the 3rd and 2 as well because of a nice play by the defender and arguably a ball thrown a little behind Beasley. Credit to the defense on that play though. The Saints get the ball back, and score another TD. 28-10 at half. HALF Opening drive of 2nd half is the big miss to Bryant that would've been a TD after he beat double coverage. We all got a pretty good look at that, so I'm not going to post the screen grab unless someone really wants to see it again (maybe sadists?). The Cowboys get one of their only stops of the game and the Saints miss a FG. But the drive after that was another 3 and out. And on 3rd and 5, Romo almost threw a pick. 3rd quarter, 3rd and 5, Saints still only up 28-10. Romo spends most of this down staring down Dez and Beasley who didn't do a good job of getting open, but to be fair, their routes looked doom to begin with. And while Murray looks wide open with room to run, he is not in this position when Romo is looking that way-- he was working back toward the ball and then turned it upfield a little late (plus that space closes down quickly). Instead, Romo goes through his progressions, switches field and fires the ball of to Romo immediately, because of pressure. As you can see Williams is wide open, but I can't blame Romo for the quick toss because of the aforementioned pressure. Overall it was just a good play by the defense on understanding Romo's tendency to find Witten when he needs a target. Saints score another TD after getting the ball back. 3rd quarter, 1st and 10, Saints up 35-10. "The Failed challenge and The Witten Drop". This play isn't a bad play by Romo at all. He stands tall in the pocket and delivers the ball to a sure handed target, Witten just can't hang on. This ended up not being that big of a deal because we ended up scoring on this drive anyway, but I thought I'd post the screen grab to show that Witten was not the only open man on that play, and that, yes, Bryant was in fact getting open against this defense and threatening the field. 3rd quarter, 2nd and 10, Saints up 35-17, "The Intentional Grounding" The Cowboys started to gain some momentum late in the 3rd and for a minute I thought they would at least make it interesting after they recovered an onside kick. But the first down screen pass to Beasley was a little high and probably wouldn't have been successful anyway. But on 2nd and 10, we are stymied by an intentional grounding. The worst part...? Williams is streaking down the field, one on one, with inside position. And the safety is too concerned with Bryant because of the 44 yard grab he had earlier working out of the same position, and because... well he's a beast. Romo has a clean enough pocket to get this ball to Williams. SAME DOWN This is about a quarter of a second later, with Williams clearly leaving his guy and the safety clearly biting on Dez. Of course at this point, it's too late for Romo as the pressure is on. But honestly, if he sees Williams with leverage early, the pressure would not have mattered. Probably would have still taken a hit, but probably would've been 6 points too. Instead, we get intentional grounding, 3rd and 21, and the end of the game essentially. Conclusion: Obviously, it's easy to sit here on a computer and say what he should've done. It's much more difficult during the game. And This was a game we were probably going to lose because of the defense. But, IMO, this was the story of the offense. A few bad reads and a bit of poor execution. Not all Romo's fault of course. In the last example alone, if the offensive line had've afforded him just a little more time, he had even better opportunities down the field. But when the opportunities were there, we just didn't take advantage. Each player had their good moments, and even the playcalling wasn't nearly as bad as I initially thought or as bad as it has been in the past. But the good individual efforts rarely synced up and we were out of sync because of it. To put it simply. In a game where the first offense to blink would lose, we blinked like we had sand in our eyes the entire game.