ARLINGTON, Texas – After Tony Romo tossed his fifth touchdown pass of the game to give the Cowboys a seven-point lead with a little over seven minutes remaining, a thought quickly popped into my head:
This is the best game Romo has ever played.
And after Romo threw an interception that ended up giving Peyton Manning and the Broncos the ball with prime position to win this game, I again thought about Romo's performance:
*Yep, still the best game Romo has ever played. *
I know, I know. You can scream and shout that a quarterback simply can't throw the ball right there in that situation. You'd be right. You are right. Romo knows it. But at the same time, he's got to make a play. Lord knows the defense isn't going to stop anyone, especially Manning, who had just marched the field to tie the score once again. Romo knew this game was no different than any other in the last five years – he had to go win it.
But that's what this guy is. He's a gunslinger. You could see it from the very first drive of the game. He was ducking and dipping and dodging and doing Romo-things. This was an old-fashion shootout in the Wild, Wild (South) West and Romo and Manning were trading shots all day long. Manning was Manning. And Romo was Romo. They played themselves in this Western and it played out in the end like we all pretty much expected.
Now, getting there was a surprise. I don't think anyone could've imagined Romo passing for a Cowboys single-game record of 506 yards and five touchdowns while playing step for step with the NFL's best. In fact, Romo was even outdueling his counterpart for most of the game.
But then … it happened. And it's happened before. For three-and-a-half quarters, everything Romo was touching was turning into gold. But with the game on the line, his luck runs out and he throws a pick trying to force it into Gavin Escobar. The Broncos get the ball, get the momentum back and then Manning made sure the Cowboys never touched the ball again.
Just like that, Romo's best game of his career ends with an interception and a 51-48 loss to the Broncos.
Really? The best game of his career? In my opinion, you're damn right it was. And at least I've got some pretty good company to support it. Jason Witten says it was "probably the best game I've seen him play in a long time, if not the best." And Jerry Jones was more adamant, as the owner said, "Tony played the best game that I've ever seen him play in his career. Not only from the standpoint of how he executed, not only how he created plays, but his leadership."
And that's true. Romo *led *that entire team in nearly beating an opponent that will probably hoist the Super Bowl trophy when this season is said and done.
Romo haters are going to … hate this. Even the ones that really, really want to support this guy but are tired of the "same old story" will probably not see it this way. I'm sorry, this is the problem I've had with this team for about three years now, and it reared its head once again. Until this football team can find ANY OTHER way to win a game than on Romo's right arm and his legs, then stuff like this is going to happen.
The very reason the Cowboys even had a chance to beat Denver was because of their scrambling, risk-taking, ball-chunking quarterback who was playing as well as he's ever played. The only way the Cowboys were able to come back from a 15-point deficit was Romo putting the team on his back and refusing to stop. He fired it around all day to guys like Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, and of course, the mainstays Witten and Dez Bryant. Romo was slicing Denver's defense left and right.
For a while, we were thinking Romo was going to keep the Cowboys somewhat close. Then, we started to realize they had a chance to compete for the win in this game. And before we knew it, Romo checked out of a run to find Cole Beasley open in the flat for a touchdown to give his team a 48-41 lead.
Tony Romo was winning this game.
But after the Cowboys defense once again couldn't stop Manning and allowed the game-tying score, it was back on Romo's shoulders again. That's when the game got a little weird.
Now, let's not make any excuses about Romo's interception. He threw it. It wasn't his best throw at all. With pressure in his face, he didn't get enough on the throw and forced it in there. Denver's Danny Trevathan then makes the play of his life.
But what happened before that was interesting. After Romo was brought down on a sack on first down (which some of the players in the locker room were asking why that wasn't a horse collar, and I really have no answer to that), but surprisingly enough, the clock stopped for about 10 seconds. The play-clock never stopped and therefore the Cowboys snapped the ball at 2:04. It seems like the two-minute warning would've and should've occurred before that play.
Again, that's NOT an excuse for Romo's pick. But yet just another unfortunate situation that marred this game.
For those who like Tony but think he chokes in the end, this game is right up your alley. I can admit Romo hasn't played his best in the clutch games or clutch moments. But like I've said here already, and thousands of times before, you have to give this guy help or this team will not win. [embedded_ad]
Even Manning has help. He's got a running back who can provide some balance. Knowshon Moreno had 150 yards from scrimmage, including 93 on the ground. DeMarco Murray had 48. Both defenses struggled mightily but at least Denver dropped Romo four times in sacks. Manning was never sacked. And I guarantee Romo faced a lot more pressure as well.
I know Romo will be blamed heavily for that interception and in some ways he should. But if you watched this game at all, you know he was at his very best. Not just for him, but for any Dallas Cowboy quarterback who has ever played. Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman or any of Romo's previous games … no one had ever thrown for more than 500 yards in one game. And the way he was doing it seemed to be even more amazing.
Honestly, this is Romo. It seems like we've been hearing all week that he needs to take more shots. Well, he did. And for the most part, it was working for him. But guess what, 506 yards and five touchdowns still wasn't enough. And he had to keep doing it.
I'm sorry, but when your quarterback does that, you should win. You should have a blowout win. If your ace pitcher goes nine perfect innings and it's still 0-0 in the 10th and then he gives up a homer, does he get ridiculed? I doubt it. At some point, a perfect game should be enough. And yes, Tony Romo played a perfect game against one of the best quarterbacks to ever lace them up.
It wasn't enough. He needed to do more and with that, the Cowboys are now 2-3. Call it a choke job by Romo. I call it the best game he's played. With anything, the reality of it all is probably somewhere in between. Sure, you'd like to see your quarterback not make that throw in the final minute. But after what he had done the previous 58, he should've never been forced to.