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Tony Romo's play-action passes bringing big gains

IRVING, Texas -- One of the things playcaller Scott Linehan wanted to do with the Dallas Cowboys' offense is make the Cowboys a more efficient play-action passing team.

Mission accomplished.

Tony Romo still ranks 23rd in the NFL with only 75 play-action passes in attempts, but the production has been impressive starting with his league-leading 10.7 yards per attempt. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is second with 10.3 yards per attempt on play-action passes.

Romo is 55 of 75 for 799 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions of the nine interceptions he's thrown this season. Last season, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford was fifth in the NFL in play-action pass attempts with 141. He completed 87 of those passes for 1,262 yards and 9.0 yards per attempt.

"Typically the play-action passes are more chunk plays," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "One of the real things Tony does is you have a chunk play called -- all these routes down the field, but they might be covered -- and Tony throws it to the back. There was a good example of him doing that in the Washington game and we got a good gain from DeMarco [Murray] on the play."

We shouldn't be surprised Romo has such a high average per attempt because Murray leads the NFL with 1,845 yards. Linebackers must respect Murray's ability, which means when Romo pretends to give him the ball linebackers can't help but react.