One day later, the ugliness from quarterback Tony Romo’s performance in Sunday’s 28-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers had not yet dissipated.
The Dallas Cowboys, however, refuse to blame his three-interception performance on rustiness or a lack of reps because of limitations they placed on him during training camp and the preseason following December back surgery.
Coach Jason Garrett said it was simply a case of poor decisions rather than errant throws because of a lack of reps.
“Was he as sharp as he’s been in his life? No. He made some bad decisions in this game that really hurt us,” Garrett said. “There were some otherthrows that weren’t perfect. He’ll learn from this. He’ll watch the tape, just like he’s done in the past and move forward.”
The troubling thing for Garrett is that all three interceptions were forced throws into coverage on first down.
“The ball should’ve gone elsewhere,” Garrett said. “On first-and-10, you just throw the ball [away] and get to second down.”
Garrett said Romo should know better at that this point in his career.
Two of the plays in question came when Romo was trying to force the ball to receiver Dez Bryant, who had four catches for 55 yards in the game.
With the 49ers losing their two starting cornerbacks to injury in the game, Romo hoped to take advantage with some big plays to Bryant.
“I think it’s pretty clear — you don’t force the ball to people,” Garrett said. “Dez is a great player, but [Jason] Witten’s a great player, too. Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Devin Street, Dwayne Harris, all those guys are really, really good football players who, if given an opportunity, are going to come through for us. Tony understands that. In each of those cases, he probably was too aggressive throwing to Dez, and those plays hurt us, obviously.”
Garrett knows he can do nothing about the ticket sales at AT&T Stadium, which resulted in large contingent of red-clad fans having the Cowboys’ home field looking like a 49ers home game.
He said some teams in the league travel well, just as the Cowboys’ fans do, and AT&T Stadium has become a destination point because of its extravagance.
“People love to come to our stadium, they love to see AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play, and particularly if you’re one of these franchises you’re going to make an effort to do that,” Garrett said. “We have to make sure we keep them sitting in their seats.”
One of the bright spots from Sunday’s loss was the play of middle linebacker Rolando McClain.
It was his first game since 2012 when he was with the Oakland Raiders, who released him in April 2013 after two disappointing seasons.
McClain sat out last season in retirement before being persuaded back to the game this summer by the Cowboys, who were looking for an option at middle linebacker following the season-ending knee injury to Sean Lee.
McClain showed flashes of the talent that made him a first-round pick of the Raiders’ in 2010, tying Justin Durant with a team-leading eight tackles.
“Rolando played well in this game,” Garrett said. “His presence was felt both in the run game and defending the pass.
“He tackles, and he tackles hard.”