THE ANATOMY OF A PLAY
Key plays of the game:
* On first and goal at the Arizona five yard line, the Cowboys line up in the basic I-Formation with Dez Bryant lined up wide left at split end. At the snap of the ball, Tony Romo runs a play-fake to DeMarco Murray. The offensive line does a nice job of picking up Arizona’s blitz and giving Romo a clean pocket and time to throw the ball…one of the few times that can be said in this game. Dez Bryant runs a little stutter-step, then breaks to the inside and getting position on the defender. It’s an easy pitch and catch for Romo to Bryant to give the Cowboys their first, and only, touchdown of the game.
* On first and goal from the Cowboys four yard line, the Cardinals line up in a two-tight end, single back formation. The Cowboys look to be in a 4-4 alignment (four down linemen, four linebackers), with Abram Elam the single safety. The Cardinals bring tight end Jim Dray in motion from left to right, causing Elam to follow which indicates he’s in man-coverage. At the snap, Kevin Kolb hands the ball to Beanie Wells, who starts left, then reads his blocks and cuts back slightly to the right off the center. The offensive line blocks down, doing a good job of getting a hat on a hat, holding their blocks, and pushing the Cowboys defenders back. Demarcus Ware takes himself out of the play by rushing up field, which the Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown is happy to let him do. Jim Dray moves to release inside to his left to pick up Keith Brooking and take him out of the play. Jay Ratliff, lined up at left end, reads the play and does a nice job to fight off his block. He squares up on Wells, but is unable to wrap up. Wells uses his momentum to slip out of Ratliff’s grasp and lunge forward into the end zone for the Cardinals first touchdown.
* In overtime, the Cardinals face 1st and 15 on their own 48 yard line. They line up in shotgun, with two running backs in the backfield on either side of Kevin Kolb, and a three receiver set. The Cowboys are in their base 3-4 defense. Before the ball is even snapped, you can see there is a communication breakdown in the secondary as Gerald Sensabaugh runs over late to cover Larry Fitzgerald in the slot. At the snap, Anthony Spencer comes free for what looks to be an easy sack, but Kolb slides to his right just enough to throw Spencer off balance and buy himself time to find LaRod Stephens-Howling in the right flat. Both Sean Lee and Bradie James recognize what is happening, but they don’t have the speed to catch Stephens-Howling as he turns upfield. The secondary is blocked out of position to make a play as Stephens-Howling races down the field. He’s able to turn Abram Elam around on a would-be tackle and side-step Gerald Sensabaugh as he scampers into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
Find out my Cowboy list of “Who’s Hot” and “Who’s Not”, on the next page: