Breaking down Tony Romo's interceptions

IRVING, Texas – In seven games, Tony Romo has 13 interceptions, easily putting him on pace for a career high.

In a full season, Romo has never thrown more than 19 picks. In his last two full seasons (2011, 2009) he had 10 and nine interceptions.

So far 2012 has been a different story.

In his last two home games he has been intercepted nine times by Chicago and the New York Giants.

Let’s break down the four Sunday against the Giants:

Interception No. 1: It’s first and 10 from the Dallas 45 after a 23-yard pickup by Miles Austin. The Cowboys have an eight-man protection, which means only Austin and Dez Bryant are out in a route. The protection is solid against the Giants’ four-man rush and Romo tries to laser a throw to Bryant, who is supposed to run a deep crossing route. After the game Bryant said he was off balance and could not sharpen his route. As a result, safety Stevie Brown is able to step into the interception. It was a forced throw of sorts, but Bryant has to take some blame for not running the route correctly.

Interception No. 2: It’s first and 10 from the Dallas 24 and Romo wants to take a shot against the New York secondary. The Cowboys use a six-man protection with Felix Jones and Lawrence Vickers serving as checkdown options. Jason Witten is in to block. Austin is on the numbers as he runs down the field with cornerback Corey Webster to the outside. Romo’s throw is high and to the outside. As Austin adjusts he is nudged by Webster and is off balance and unable to contest the pass, giving Webster the easy pick. Again, not the best of throws, but Romo is trusting Austin to make a play or at least knock it down and he can’t.

Interception No. 3: It’s second and 7 from the Dallas 34. Romo is under early pressure from Chris Canty, who beats guard Nate Livings. Sensing the pressure, Romo tries to loop a pass to Jones, who is releasing from the backfield. Unfortunately Jason Pierre-Paul senses Jones going out on the route and stops rushing. As a result Tyron Smith is not engaged with Pierre-Paul and the defensive end makes one of the most outrageous plays you will see. He picks off the pass and returns it for a touchdown. That one you tip your cap to JPP for a great play.

Interception No. 4: It’s fourth and 1 from the New York 19. The Cowboys need 1 yard for a first down and go with the pass. The Giants rush four and the Cowboys protect with five guys. Osi Umenyiora beats Doug Free and Romo is forced to flee to his right while being chased by Umenyiora, Canty and Linval Joseph. Knowing it’s fourth down, he throws the ball toward Witten by the sideline, but Brown comes up with his second interception. Given the situation, the quarterback can’t just eat the ball on fourth down. Poor protection led to this pick. But why not run some shorter route to Witten? If they have him take three steps and turn around it’s a first down, but he is running down the seam.