49ers, not Romo, experience late-game meltdown

September 19, 2011, 1:28 am
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, he of the fourth-quarter meltdown in the Cowboys' season-opening loss, made amends with an incredible comeback on Sunday.

The 49ers blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, and Romo had a fourth quarter and overtime for the ages in the Cowboys' 27-24 victory on Sunday at Candlestick Park.Romo's remarkable performance came after he sustained a fractured rib early in the game. He sat out most of the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter and overtime, Romo torched the 49ers' defense. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"He made some really good plays there at the end," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So did their receivers. So did their team -- made some big plays."Romo finished with 345 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-33 passing, as the Cowboys (1-1) rebounded from squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to the New York Jets a week earlier.
"As a secondary and a defensive unit, we have to go back to the drawing board and understand our technique and our responsibilities," 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner said. "Until we do that, we'll continue to give up big plays."On the decisive play of the game, Whitner bit hard on a play-action fake, allowing receiver Jesse Holley to get behind him. Holley's 77-yard reception set up Dan Bailey's 19-yard field goal to end the game after the 49ers stalled after receiving the overtime kickoff.
"He sold it (the play-action fake) well, along with the tight ends (Martellus Bennett and Jason Witten)," Whitner said. "They sold it really, really well. And he got wide open."Holley originally signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2007. Prior to his three-catch, 96-yard performance, he had never caught a pass in an NFL regular-season game. He was pressed into action because of a thigh injury that kept Dez Bryant out of the game.
Holley might have scored the game-ending touchdown if he did not hold the ball aloft in a premature celebration at the 5-yard line. That gave Whitner the opportunity to make the tackle in the field of play.
"I wanted to strip the football from him," Whitner said. "That's what he's expected to do. That's what offensive guys do: They get the ball and then they celebrate. So next time, hopefully, we see them in the playoffs he'll have nothing to celebrate about."The Cowboys rolled up 472 yards of total offense in the game.After the 49ers (1-1) got out to a 14-0 lead, cornerback Tramaine Brock fell down in coverage against Miles Austin, allowing him to score on a 53-yard catch and run. Austin also scored on pass plays of 5 and 25 yards against the coverage of free safety Madieu Williams. Austin finished with nine catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns."We're always going to look to play better," Harbaugh said. "I'm proud of our guys. There were spots where the good majority of the time we played well enough to win. We played well. But not well enough to win the game, so that's really about as much as there is to say about it."

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