Tony Romo threw for four touchdowns and completed all but two of his pass attempts on the day in Dallas’ 42-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on December 21, 2014.
All of us have days when everything seems to go perfectly. For the Dallas Cowboys in December of 2014, there were a few of such days. Probably the best example of that came two years ago today when the Cowboys demolished the Indianapolis Colts 42-7 to clinch a NFC East title and help silence the critics who seemed almost gleeful to question the Cowboys’ mettle in the season’s final month.
Dallas entered the game with two impressive December road wins already behind them, having beaten Chicago 41-28 on Thursday December 4th and having handled the Eagles at Philadelphia 38-27 ten days later. With the team’s offense on a roll and with the Colts’ somewhat defensively challenged, conditions were ripe for a Cowboys’ clinching party and the home team did not disappoint the 91,899 in attendance.
Dallas dominated the game from the start, taking the opening kickoff and driving 80 yards in 15 plays over eight minutes and twenty four seconds to take a 7-0 lead on Tony Romo’s nine yard pass to Terrence Williams who was as wide open as an NFL receiver could possibly be. A failed pass out of punt formation by the Colts set Dallas up on Indianapolis’ 19 yard line for its next possession, and Dallas struck quickly as Romo and Dez Bryant connected on a 19 yard toss to give Dallas a 14-0 lead.
The 2014 Cowboys, like this year’s squad, were built to grind out long possessions that were designed to break the will of opponents and to keep the Cowboys’ own defense fresh. Dallas’ next two drives, which went 75 and 67 yards, ended with a Romo scoring toss to Cole Beasley and a touchdown run by Demarco Murray to give the Cowboys a 28-0 lead at the half.
The second half was more of the same. On its seventh possession of the game, Dallas went 75 yards in 10 plays over 6:17 to take a 35-0 lead on Romo’s 25 yard scoring pass to Jason Witten. A fourth quarter scoring pass from backup quarterback Brandon Weedon to Williams gave Dallas a 42-0 lead, before the Colts put up a consolation score in the game’s final minutes to end the scoring. The 35 point margin of victory remains the highest ever for the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Some other notes coming out of the dominant win include the following:
Romo’s 90% completion percentage is the highest ever for a Cowboys’ quarterback in a game where he’s thrown at least 11 passes. Dak Prescott’s 88.9 completion percentage in this past Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay is the second best mark, with Romo’s 88.5 mark in a 2011 win over Buffalo in third place.
Romo’s 151.7 QBR rating was the 14th highest in Cowboys’ history for passers with at least 11 attempts in a game. Craig Morton’s 158.3 rating in a 1969 win over Philadelphia is Dallas’ best ever (Morton went 14 for 18 with 261 yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions in the game), with Troy Aikman’s 158.2 rating on November 7, 1993 (Aikman was 11 for 13 for 162 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with a leg injury) next in line. There’ve been 18 150+ QBR rating games in Cowboys’ history and no player has more than Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, who had six in his magnificent career.
December 2014 was a month to remember for Romo, who led Dallas to a 4-0 record with some of the best performances of his career:
DT OPP Score Comp Att Yrds TD Int QBR
12/4 @Chi 41-28 21 26 205 3 0 138.0
12/14 @Phl 38-27 22 31 265 3 0 129.1
12/21 Ind 42-7 18 20 218 4 0 151.7
12/28 @Was 44-17 22 34 299 2 1 100.0
Cowboys’ quarterbacks have had at least four touchdown passes in a game 31 times. Romo’s effort against the Colts was his tenth such game, the most among all Cowboys’ passers. Danny White is next with eight such games, with Don Meredith in third with six. Other quarterbacks with at least four touchdown passes in a game for Dallas include Aikman (three times), Morton (twice), Eddie LeBaron (once) and Staubach (once).
The 2014 Cowboys had a time of possession advantage in 11 of their 16 games. So far in 2016, the Cowboys have done so in nine of their 14 contests. The Cowboys have won 18 of the 20 games.
Dallas scored at least seven points in each quarter of the 42-7, marking the 62nd time in team history and the fourth time in 2014 that the team had achieved that feat. Like the 2014 squad, the 1967 and 1983 Cowboys had four games where they scored at least seven points in every quarter. The franchise record for most such games is six, set by the explosive 1980 Cowboys’ squad.
The defense did its part in the division clinching win, intercepting Andrew Luck twice and holding the Colts to a single yard rushing in 10 attempts. Since the merger, only two teams have held an opponent who ran the ball 10 or more times to fewer yards. On October 2, 1988 the Bears held Buffalo to zero yards rushing in 10 tries. 18 years and almost two months later, Detroit had minus three yards on the ground in 10 tries against Minnesota.