Jerry Jones: Blame linebacker injuries, not Tony Romo for Cowboys loss
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning that wild finishes like his team experienced Sunday against Green Bay make for "an exciting time" and "great entertainment."
If you need to be reminded, the Cowboys led 26-3 at halftime and 29-10 midway through the third quarter before losing 37-36.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw a pair of interceptions in the final minutes, aiding the Packers' improbable victory. But Jones didn't blame Romo for the loss during his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM].
No, Jones said the team's seventh loss of the season largely occurred because of the vast number of injuries to the team's linebackers.
"We had to quit doing things on defense that we had been doing," Jones said. "That compromised us."
Would Ernie Sims and Justin Durant at full strength made that much of a difference? Sean Lee and Bruce Carter didn't dress and Jones didn't seem to have high expectations for the defense before the game started.
"We weren't going to count on getting any stops as we went into the ballgame," Jones said. "That's not being negative. It's just a strategy."
But just as it sounded like Jones was about to put the remainder of the season on the team's offense, he dropped this line: "If we can get our defense patched up here, we've got a chance to really do something this year."
Yes, Jones was talking about the Cowboys defense that ranks last in the NFL, giving up 427 yards per game. The same defense that has allowed backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Josh McCown to throw for 647 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception the last two weeks.
But back to Romo. Jones had no problem with his franchise quarterback checking out of a run play on one of his interceptions. The Cowboys owner was all for his team throwing despite having a five-point lead with 4:17 to play.
"With us not being able to stop them, we didn't want to give them the ball back," Jones said. "Frankly, when they would score, I wanted to answer them. I was for the aggressiveness that we showed in the [second] half."
Asked if he thinks Romo has too much latitude in the offense, Jones responded with a firm: "No. I don't. Not at all."
So what happened on the two interceptions?
"You could make a case for just execution," Jones said. "You really had three different kinds of plays and three different circumstances. You get a little more loop on the ball to the interception that occurred when it was going to Miles Austin. You get that thing up in the air, a little more loop on it and Miles is still running. He had pressure. He called off the tight end coming across because he thought theoretically that would bring another linebacker into the position to throw the ball. … I understand what happened. The ball got in behind him and the guy made a great play.
"The d-backs made plays in the secondary that we needed to have made. We needed a couple of stops like that from our secondary. But I understand that interception.
"The last throw at the end of the ball game, you can look back on it. It was probably one that you could take back and should take back, but still, I understand and I think it's a toss-up as to who's at fault there. We just got the ball intercepted and made a bad play. [Cole] Beasley's got a good reason fro playing the ball the way he did, under the way we read that play, and Romo has a reason for throwing the ball there."
Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has been exceptional the last five games, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He ran 18 times for 134 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. But only three of those carries came in the fourth quarter.
Jones said he understands why Murray would be frustrated by not getting opportunities to run out the clock. But Green Bay loaded the box, so the Cowboys took what the defense gave them.
How did Murray perform on those three fourth quarter runs? Twenty four yards, which included four on first down with 2:58 remaining and the Cowboys ahead 36-31. Romo was intercepted on the next play.