Cowboys must protect Romo to beat Lions

Posted Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway When it comes to Tony Romo and his offensive pals, I’m telling you again, these guys have got to be prolific on Sunday in Detroit.

Got to be if there is going to be a W.

Which, of course, is my echo from last week against Philly.

And a double echo from two weeks earlier against the Redskins.

But despite being wrong the last two times, this time I really mean it.

Or, better yet, keep saying it long enough, and eventually I’ve got to be right.

So here we are again, a Sunday with the Dallas Cowboys on the road, facing a Lions club that seems to have a tad more prominent football pieces in place than the Cowboys.

But the two teams share 4-3 records against what has basically been the same caliber of opponents, although I think the Cowboys have the right to say they’ve played the tougher schedule.

Over the last two weeks, Romo and his offense have been rather docile in point production, which is why the Cowboys winning both those games has been impressive, regardless of how much you (my emailers) want to trash-talk the competitive level of the Eagles and Redskins.

But ...

This is the NFL. Touchdowns have to happen. The Lions have a quarterback who can play, always priority No. 1. And Matthew Stafford is obviously not shy about putting the ball up for Calvin Johnson, danger No. 1 among all receivers in league.

Plus, shock me on this, the addition of Reggie Bush in the backfield has been a productive bonus for Detroit. The Bush revival thus far has been a throwback to his earlier days with the Saints, with the ball coming his way in multiple ways, or every way except slamming him into the line.

So this week, my echo from last week is the same, despite the fact it was wrong last week. On Sunday, it’s going to take an offensive output in the high 20s, at least, for the Cowboys to stay on a winning roll.

This time I really mean it.

Meanwhile, here’s some good advice for Tony: Watch your head, my man.

While on the ground, keep the noggin out of range of a size-20 foot belonging to one Mr. Suh.

Ndamukong Suh, dirtiest player in football, will stomp on your head, or any other body part.

But Mr. Suh is not merely a cheap-shot beast. He’s as good as it gets when it comes to defensive tackle in the league.

By the way, here’s my theory on why this guy plunged off the deep end for “sportsmanship” in the NFL:

At the University of Nebraska, Suh was considered one of the premier “student athletes” in the college world. He was great and he was clean on the field. Listen to him off the field, and he speaks like a scholar, because he was one. Got his degree in engineering.

But Mr. Suh’s final Big 12 game ever was the conference championship tilt against Texas in 2009 at the Big Yard in Arlington.

You will remember it, and certainly all of Nebraska does, as the “Texas Second” game.

After that controversial ending, and loss, Mr. Suh’s mind blew. He’s been an NFL dirtball ever since.

Another thing, of course, we can blame it on Mack Brown.

(Just kidding, Mack. C’mon, man. Let’s have some fun.)

I did mention, of course, that as a player, Mr. Suh is as good as ever.

Here’s what Romo will know going in on Sunday:

On defense, the Lions have the two most prominent tackles in the game, Suh and Nick Fairley. Otherwise, there’s nothing prominent about the Lions’ defense, including the secondary, which can be beaten downfield.

See where we’re going here?

Romo has to have time for a route to develop downfield.

And there’s your key (OK, it’s only Football 101, I agree) for Sunday.

Can the Cowboys’ interior offensive line keep Suh and Fairley from regularly busting Romo’s windshield, or busting some body part?

For a change, the dog-cussing of the offensive line has been minimal this season. The rookie, Travis Frederick, has held his own at center. The addition of old-timer Brian Waters at one guard helped stabilize the middle. And the other guard, Ronald Leary, has been a pleasant surprise.

How the Cowboys play this on Sunday will be interesting.

Did you give Waters the Suh assignment alone, and work the double team on Fairley with Frederick and Leary?

Does it make more sense for the double-team on Suh, and leave Fairley with Leary, who was nursing a sore knee all last week?

Scouts I talked with last week said they’d at least start out by trusting Waters alone on Suh rather than Leary alone on Fairley. All agreed, however, this is a situation that could change possession by possession.

Another thing, of course, that could slow the Suh-Fairley charge at Romo would be an effective running game, but, well, the Cowboys’ run game is iffy, at best.

Overall, here’s the Sunday contest in a neat package:

Suh. Fairley. Cowboys’ interior offensive line.

Romo and Co. must roll to win this one.

This time I mean it.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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