This was a travesty, a crying shame to America’s team, grasping a sense that Tony Romo is still prone to making mistakes. He’s not the kind of quarterback Cowboys fans thought he would turn out to be, still making costly mistakes late in the game, and reminding us to never have faith in someone who always finds a way to blow it in the fourth quarter. He’s not clutch and isn’t an elite quarterback, until he can lead the team on a drive without turning over the ball in the final moments of a tense, dramatic ballgame.
There are nightmarish moments for Romo that take us back into the bygone years, the days when he was dating Jessica Simpson and when he was getting his popcorn ready for the T.O. drama from Terrell Owens, who was a problem child when he played in Dallas. For the Cowboys, at the Taj Mahal of football stadiums, it’s almost like the team’s time machine is stuck and much hasn’t changed in the Big D, which is mainly why the blame lies solely on Romo, who has doomed Dallas because of his late-game failures. Each time, he seems to start the game efficiently, then stumbles late in the game and makes an awful decision with the football. It’s a shame the Cowboys, with the vehement fans and owner Jerry Jones watching, let a potential victory slip away in Texas and lost to the unbeaten Denver Broncos in an NFL shootout.
There’s the Romo conundrum, the talking from critics and the laughs from haters who thinks he choked again in critical moments, when he had a chance to win it in dramatic fashion. It’s nothing short of remarkable that he has had one of the best performances of his career. He’s making the organization look like potential Super Bowl champions, well, to some degree. So maybe Jones, Romo’s boss, is a firm believer in his ability to deliver. Maybe he truly believes he can lead Dallas back to the Super Bowl. For whatever reason, Jones is loyal and trusts in Romo, unwilling to give up on his quarterback. He knows Romo has only one playoff victory, many terrible plays in big moments, the kind of paycheck that underperforming players don’t normally earn, but at this point in the quarterback’s career, Jones will support and stay with Romo.
Romo has never played the game better, a moment where he played so brilliantly before it all came undone. He took a breath, then he sat on a stool at his locker and stared into space, like a zombie lurking and prowling, after finishing with 506 passing yards and five touchdowns in a quarterback duel against the four-time MVP, Peyton Manning. It’s not fair to totally blame Romo for the loss, given that he had the best game of his career — he’s not the only one to point the finger at for a gut-wrenching loss.
The grief of falling short wasn’t only Romo’s fault, in spite of performing the choke job as usual and throwing an ill-advised pass to a receiver who was tightly covered. He’s a 32-year-old, nine-year veteran who signed a six-year, $180 million contract extension in the spring, locking him up with the Cowboys for the future, as Jones stands by the league’s most scrutinized quarterback.
If it seems like Romo is the scapegoat whenever something goes wrong on the field, it’s because 90 percent of the time the quarterback takes the blame and also the fact that he puts on the helmet that has the star logo on it. The disastrous collapses were every conceivable factor of misfortunes that the Cowboys have dealt with almost every season, from the December nightmares to the very frustrating moments of Romo turning the ball over at the worst possible time. In its own way, however, it’s been a more wonderful scene than Romo’s prior seasons. It’s hard to see why someone would blame Romo for costing Dallas that game Sunday. For nearly two decades now, he has been criticized in Dallas, not wholly a hero and certainly not a bum.
It’s obvious that Jones is thinking Super Bowl, but he is never going to return and neither will the Cowboys with Romo, unless Jones turns to another quarterback or either Romo will have to minimize the number of turnovers that have hurt Dallas in recent memory. Sure, earlier in the day, he threw the ball 36 times. The crowd was insane and finally had been unnerved, then he threw an interception on his last pass of the day and ended the Cowboys chances to upset the Broncos.
It had all gone to waste, and suddenly the crowd at Cowboys Stadium was stunned. It was a day when Romo ruined the greatest quarterback performance in which he has a penchant for playing very well only to fall short. It is Romo’s intelligence, his toughness and vision, delivering accurate passes but blowing it late in games. Romo looks like a man who could have built a modern-aged computer from his garage.
Realistically, he’s the best-worst quarterback in the history of the NFL.
This game featured back-and-forth, intense drama, and Romo’s final play was so predictable that you had the feeling he’d blow it on the last possession. Surely, he blew it. He is amazingly a solid quarterback for three quarters. Romo is still a competitor. He is the only quarterback who has matched Peyton Manning throw for throw, touchdown for touchdown in a classic game for the ages. He threw for at least 500 yards and five touchdowns to become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to reach that plateau.
The achievements rightfully earn the chance for him to claim elite status, shattering the team record of 460 yards that Don Meredith had in 1963 against San Francisco. Then he broke his own record of 441 yards last season against Washington, but he’s far from being great until he stops turning it over and lead the Cowboys to victories. There’s no denying that he’s stellar, with a 71.8 completion percentage, 13 touchdowns, two interceptions.
It was Romo who outplayed and outperformed Manning — only unable to make a big play in crucial moments. It was Romo who gave the Cowboys a 14-0 lead early and then commandeered a second-half rally to come back from an 11-point deficit with 3:23 left in the third quarter. It’s not often that a team has a quarterback who has the NFL’s second-best passer rating, and makes terrible mistakes in critical situations.
He delivered a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley with 7:19 remaining and it gave Dallas a 48-41 lead. It wasn’t long before the Broncos tied it with 2:39 left, giving Romo a chance to win it on the final drive. But now it’s Romo’s fault, to some, that the Cowboys lost a game that ended 51-48 in favor of the Broncos. He’s become one of the most polarizing figures in sports, and the game ended unfortunately with one of Romo’s quintessential, foolish plays as the clock dwindled down late in the fourth quarter.
No one is more attached to his quarterback than Jones, and he has a personal relationship with Romo. So now he deems the team’s defeat a moral victory. After this one, he’s also defending defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin after the defense has surrendered 1,023 yards in the past two weeks. He knows, however, that his team is putrid. This team looks remotely vulnerable to danger in the upcoming weeks, given Dallas’ history to falter toward the end of the regular season. The good news is that after six games they’re right where they want to be in a mediocre division.
If what we saw Sunday was a misconception, we’ll find that out in a few weeks. If the Cowboys are ever going to win the NFC, Romo must win the big ones, and can’t make bad decisions at the most inopportune time.
When it comes down to it, he can’t throw late-game interceptions that seem inevitable, he has to throw game-winning touchdown passes.