By Shawn Lealos for CBSDFW.COM | CBS Local Sports

Heading into the first week of the 2014 NFL season, Dallas Cowboys fans’ biggest fear was their defense, which some predicted would be the worst of all time. However, the defense played well in the first week of play against a very good San Francisco 49ers offense. Instead, the reason that Dallas lost was because of four turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback Tony Romo.

When asked about the interceptions, wide receiver Dez Bryant took the blame for two of them, even though he wasn’t really to blame at all. On the first interception, Romo threw into triple coverage and on the second, he threw the ball late into double coverage. The first interception was a great read by safety Eric Reid. The third interception was a great read by Perrish Cox, who saw that Bryant was breaking for the pass.

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Both of those plays were results of the 49ers defense playing well, but also reading what Romo and Bryant were planning. That makes it the fault of both Romo as well as praise for the defense. It seems that, when quarterbacks throw interceptions, people only blame the passer. The fact is that the defense deserves credit for their play as well.

However, on the whole, Tony Romo did not play a good game and was responsible for two San Francisco 49ers touchdowns. Without those scores, Dallas could have won. There was also a check down in the red zone where Romo chose not to hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray and took a huge nine yard loss on a sack because he checked to a pass play. If he had trusted Murray, who averaged over five yards a carry, the Cowboys might have scored a touchdown on that drive, making the end of the game more interesting.

When asked about that check down that resulted in a loss, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett came to Romo’s defense. Garrett said that people overreact to specific plays in a game, where if they looked at the game as a whole, they would see that those check downs happen all the time and they never mention where they work. Garrett did make allusions that the run would have been the better play and said that he hoped the decision would be better next time.

One of the excuses thrown around was that Tony Romo is still recovering from his back surgery and might be rusty. To his credit, Garrett dismissed those thoughts. Garrett said that Romo needs to get out there and play, just like the rest of the team. Romo took 50 snaps in the 2014 preseason, which was close to his average every preseason since 2011. Rust was not an excuse. It was just poor decision making mixed with some solid defense by the San Francisco 49ers.

The Dallas Cowboys have another tough task in Week 2 when they meet the Tennessee Titans. Despite their defense being ridiculed heading into the season, Dallas ranks 11th in total defense playing against the team that has played in three straight NFC Championship games. Tennessee ranks third after playing the Kansas City Chiefs. This will give Romo a chance to get things turned around, but if he continues to make mistakes, Dallas might find it hard to keep up for the second week in a row.

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For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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