Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

THIS FOUR GAME STRETCH IN 2011, DEFINES TONY ROMO

Jay C. Brandriet

7/11/18

Tony Romo was not drafted. He was an elite talent who carved out a fine career. He will fall short of the Hall of Fame, but deserves an important label. Romo’s overrated teams, helped him become the most underrated player of his generation. He wasn’t just bashed for coming up short. He was not recognized for carrying many of his ball clubs. Tony was a high risk, high reward player. He was more clutch than you realize. When he melted down? He could come apart with the best of them.  Over his first seven seasons, Romo struggled to be consistent.

No window of play explains this quarterback like the opening month of the 2011 season. This four game stretch defines Tony Romo.

 

WEEK #1 (9/12/11) COWBOYS AT JETS

Opening day. Sunday night football. I waited all year. I waited all day. The Cowboys controlled the first half, while Romo put on a clinic in escaping New York defenders. Fast forward to the early part of the fourth quarter. Dallas is up a touchdown with the ball. Tony hits Jason Witten on a beautiful 64 yard pass and run. Unfortunately (for me), Jason was pushed out at the one yard line. Two snaps later on third and goal…Tony was forced to step up in the pocket and take off to the end zone with his legs. He plowed forward with his head down. The ball was knocked lose and he fumbled. The Jets kept themselves alive. With five minutes left, New York blocked a punt and turned it into a quick six. With the game tied, and 55 seconds remaining…Tony challenged the best corner in the game. Darrelle Revis made him pay for it. He scooped up the easy pick and headed down the sideline. The Jets went on to win 27-24. This was the first impression of the season for the already polarizing Romo. He was destroyed in the media all week-long.

 

WEEK #2 (9/18/11) COWBOYS AT 49ERS

Dallas hit the road again to face a physical 49ers defense. Early in the second quarter, Romo was blasted from behind by corner Carlos Rogers. Tony was left with fractured ribs and a punctured lung. He finished out the second quarter. After being evaluated at halftime, the Cowboys started the second half with Jon Kitna. After Jon had two picks and Dallas was now down ten, Romo had seen enough. Despite spitting blood, Tony was obsessed with avoiding an 0-2 start to the year. He re entered the contest and dominated in pressure. He led Dallas to a fourth quarter tie. On the first drive of overtime, Romo threw a perfect 77 yard strike to a reality-tv star named Jesse Holley (caught seven passes in his career). He was tackled at the one. Dallas kicked the chip shot field goal and won the game 27-24. In the fourth quarter and the extra session..Tony was 12-15 throwing with 201 yards. A week after being the focus of serious scrutiny, Romo put on a display of what real leadership is.

 

In 2011. Tony scored 82 percent of his team’s touchdowns. The best mark in football by far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK #3 (9/26/11) REDSKINS AT COWBOYS 

Because of the division opponent, this was the biggest game of the four. Tony was wearing a Kevlar vest. With every throw in warm ups, you could see him wincing through the pain. This was a competitive night as you would expect. These Redskins hit hard and they made sure number nine knew it. The score was Washington 16, Dallas 15 with 2:20 left. The Cowboys had the ball on a dire third down and 21. Tony rolled right, faded deep behind the line of scrimmage, and connected with Dez Bryant for a 30 yard gain. Kicker Dan Bailey put the ball through the goal posts and Dallas won the game 18-16.

 

WEEK #4 (10/2/11) LIONS AT COWBOYS 

Romo came out hotter than McDonald’s coffee. In the early stages of the third quarter, he had his team in a commanding 27-3 lead. Tony got careless. He threw two pick sixes in the third quarter. The Lions were now right in the game. You could feel the Cowboys fans with lumps in their throats. An uneasy feeling was looming over this life-size stadium. Dallas was nursing a three-point lead with just over four minutes on the clock. Romo threw one more unforgivable pick. You can’t give Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson layups. They made Dallas regret it, and completed a stunning come from behind 34-30 victory. On a day where Tony completed 72 percent of his passes, for 331 yards and three scores, he played one of the worst games of his life. This one hurt.

In his brief playoff career, Romo had eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He made bone headed plays, and was always called out for being a choke artist.

He was often brilliant in the clutch. His lack of team success, left this fact buried in history.

Before he was “fragile” at the end of his career, Romo was an all time tough guy.

Over his first seven seasons, he was like a thrilling roller coaster with good and bad results.

This four game stretch, was a fair look at who Tony Romo was as an NFL QB.

Jay C. Brandriet

 

 

 

 

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STOP SAYING YOUR NFL TEAM’S SCHEDULE IS HARD

Jay C. Brandriet

7/10/18

It’s summer, and it’s time to break down NFL schedules for each team once again. I’m amazed how it’s loosely thrown around that some team’s have “brutal schedules” and some have “easy ones.”  I remember just over a decade ago hearing ESPN’s John Clayton say, “the most important keys to a season are quarterback play and your teams schedule.” Really? QB play maybe. Your schedule? This isn’t college bro. These are not 200 teams where the levels of play can be so drastically different. These are the 32 best football teams in the world. Everyone is looking for that inch to expose you. Worst to first shocks nobody anymore. Even within a season, franchises can change month to month in how they are performing. I love the guy that is proud his team is number 3 in “the power poll.” That’s a completely meaningless tool. It’s a weak copycat of college polls to generate discussion.

There  is always a little variance, and some schedules turn out to be more or less of a climb. Not all challenges in the NFL are equal. They are however painted on the same canvas of difficulty. Maybe your team had to play someone at the time they were their hottest. Maybe they have three road games in winter cities come December. Did they have to play Tom Brady twice? Is there an extra awesome division that year? Did they have to play a group that just got all their injured guys back? Life happens. It’s 2018, and the NFL is the ultimate league of parity. Everyone has a chance. If you are attached to a pro football team…you get it. There are NO WEEKENDS OFF. The Cleveland Browns were 0-16 last year. I thought they played hard. Seriously. They are more of a threat to any NFL squad, than Idaho State is to Michigan.

 

The difference between a 7-9 team, and a Super Bowl champion might be four players and twenty total plays. It’s hard to win games in the National Football League. As a kid in the mid eighties, it seemed there were more dominant teams. Player movement was less frequent and chemistry had more of a chance to grow. I could look at the 1984 49ers or the 1985 Bears schedules and guess my way through it. You try to figure out the league today? Not happening. Stop saying your NFL team’s schedule is hard. They ARE ALL HARD.

Jay C. Brandriet

JOE MONTANA’S CHIEFS DAYS DESERVE MORE LOVE

Jay C. Brandriet

6/28/18

It’s often mentioned on the side, but we don’t talk enough about Joe Montana playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. His time there was a vital chapter in his story book run. It’s more remembered as him slowing down and not winning big. That’s the lazy memory. These two seasons added a layer to his journey worth bringing up.  When you are talking about his legacy, Joe Montana’s Chiefs days deserve more love.

 

Go back in time with me and think of the climate. Montana had just been involved in the loudest QB controversy of all time with Steve Young. Joe had missed two full seasons and Young was rolling. Montana was now healthy for the last regular season game in 1992. San Francisco played him for a half, and Joe looked razor-sharp. You could feel the 49er’s fans loyalty pouring out of the television. Those same people felt empty. It was time for number 16 to go.

 

KANSAS CITY 1993

It’s often a risk for someone of Montana’s stature to change teams. He was the best QB I had ever seen play. There was a lot to live up to. The Chiefs were a defensive football team. Joe was blessed with Marcus Allen. Instead of Rice, Clark, or John Taylor to throw to…..Montana now needed to bring along wide receivers Willie Davis and J.J. Birden.

Joe was 8-3 as a starter. He fumbled only once. He was selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Chiefs were AFC West champions for the first time in 20 years.

On fourth down and seven. with the season on the line….Joe threw a touchdown pass to tie a Wild Card game against the Steelers. Kansas City won in overtime.

In the Divisional round at Houston, Montana led another come from behind victory.

Kansas City and their quarterback made it to the AFC championship where they were out classed by the Buffalo Bills.

In the span of eight days, the Kansas City version of Joe Montana won as many playoff games as Joe Namath, Tony Romo, Ken Anderson, and Michael Vick each did in their entire careers.

Joe’s time in KC is an under used weapon in the GOAT debate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLAYING AGAINST STEVE YOUNG 

September 11th 1994. San Francisco at Kansas City. I know it wasn’t a one on one game of basketball in the Park. Steve Young vs. Joe Montana was a huge deal. The game was “bigger” for Young. Still, Montana playing better and winning 24-17 was powerful career gravy. It kept the perception alive that Steve was the one still chasing Joe. Young and his guys went on to win what matters most, the Super Bowl. The two only played once, and Joe got him.

 

Five weeks later in Denver, Montana threw a scoring strike with eight seconds remaining to beat, and out duel John Elway in the clutch.

 

In only 25 regular season games in Kansas City, Joe was named the “AFC offensive player of the week” five times.

 

The reason Montana’s time as a Chief was important, is because things were harder for him. Getting off the ground seemed to take quite an effort. He was beat up. The numbers were now nice, not elite. This was a very good Chiefs team, not the dynasty he had helped build. Through the age and pain, I could still see the surgeon….. the tough guy with the sweet feet…and mostly I could still see “Joe cool.”

Jay C. Brandriet