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Doug Farrar

Kitna's receivers let him down ... again

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Should interceptions always be "credited" to quarterbacks? If a receiver bungles a route, or does a total hatchet job on an easy catch, or pulls up to avoid being hit over the middle (yes, I'm talking to you, Roy Williams), should the quarterback be blamed on the stat sheet? Here's a very good example -- Jon Kitna(notes) of the Dallas Cowboys. Doing mop-up duty for Tony Romo(notes) down the stretch, the 14-year veteran has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions for the first time since 2004 (16 scores to 12 picks), but the responsibility for at least five of those interceptions should go to Kitna's receivers.

Earlier this season, we detailed how three of Kitna's four picks against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 came directly from receiver drops, and it was so again in the Cowboys' 27-26 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas night. Cowboys fans may be ready to string up kicker David Buehler(notes) for missing the PAT that kept the ‘Boys from a potential overtime, but the Dallas receivers were directly responsible for two Arizona interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. In case you didn't see the game, here are the two plays in question.

The first, with 12:56 left in the first quarter, as Kitna tries to hit Miles Austin(notes), who falls down on the route:

And then, with 8:26 left in the first quarter, Kitna attempts a throw to Roy Williams, who holds up as a defender zeroes in on him (Joe Theismann's assertion that Kitna threw behind Williams to the contrary, it's pretty clear that the ball hit Williams' left arm area):

Ouch. He also got knocked out of the game behind a porous offensive line that had him getting hit hard all the way through the first half.

Now, if you just saw Kitna's stat sheet, you'd see 12 completions in 20 attempts for 112 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and you'd assume that Kitna had a rotten day. He did, but it wasn't his fault -- once again, his receivers let him down. Makes you wonder what his season would be like were he on a team with a group of dynamic pass-catchers in need of a quarterback -- a team like, say, the Arizona Cardinals?

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