IRVING, Texas - This isn't the first time – even this year – that the Cowboys' faith in their starting quarterback has been questioned.
It seems every time the Cowboys lose in a game where Tony Romo has made some poor decisions down the stretch, the following week is filled with questions to him, his coach and his teammates concerning their faith in No. 9.
Every time the answers are the same.
In fact, tight end Jason Witten not only dismissed any claims that the Cowboys are losing confidence in Romo, but he extended the issues, stating the team has been somewhat carried by Romo's play over the years.
"I don't think anybody ever would lose confidence in him," Witten said. "Everything we are, we've accomplished over the last few years and [everything] you believe in and hold on to, is because of him. What he creates week in and week out and day in and day out … I don't think you look at a couple of plays and determine anything. I think you'd be foolish to do that. Having said that, just like all elite quarterbacks, until you overcome and prove it, you're going to deal with that."
Witten even referenced John Elway getting similar criticism until he won two Super Bowls to close out his career back in the late 1990s.
Witten's faith is shared by Dez Bryant, who like the tight end, knows the Cowboys offense is led by Romo and when things falter like they did Sunday, it makes the rest of the players, especially key stars like Bryant, more accountable.
"That's our guy. We all love him," Bryant said of Romo. "Things happen. Unfortunate things happen. Those things can be fixed, and that's by staying together. If you make a guy feel like you trust him and you believe him and you're behind him, it makes you go extra hard, just like me. If I'm down, and I know I've got somebody behind me keeping me up, it's going to make me work harder than I worked before. We're all behind him."
What about Romo himself? Just how has he bounced back from Sunday's 37-36 loss to the Packers that included a pair of interceptions by the Cowboys quarterback in the final five minutes? The first miscue, which led to the Packers' go-ahead touchdown has been the most controversial this week. With the Cowboys leading by five, 36-31, with just under three minutes left, Romo optioned into a pass play that was intercepted near midfield.
And after Green Bay took the lead, Romo was intercepted once again on a play where he and receiver Cole Beasley had some miscommunication. Beasley said after the game the result of the play was his fault as he stopped running his route toward the sideline.
On Thursday, Romo was asked several questions regarding the level of aggressiveness by the offense, not only in the past, but moving forward against Washington on Sunday. With the Cowboys being the NFL's worst-ranked defense, Romo tried to imply that the offense has to score points, without taking any jabs at his defensive teammates.
"Well, we know there is very little room for error," Romo said. "We can't make any mistakes. We can't really turn the ball over."
The big issue this week was Romo's decision to change out of a run call to a pass, although both offensive coordinator Bill Callahan and Romo said Thursday it was a run-pass option.
"I didn't change the play," Romo said. "That's just part of our running scheme."
And changing plays is something Romo has had the freedom to do since he became the starter in 2007. [embedded_ad]
"You hear about the ones you lose, but you don't hear about all the ones we do a good job with – the calls that are made at the end of games against New York, Oakland, Minnesota or the other games that help you win. It's part of the game," said Romo, who said last week's high-scoring affair dictated a more aggressive approach. "I think if the score would've been 10-7 it probably would've changed it a little bit."
But moving forward this week, the Cowboys know Sunday's game in Washington could be completely different. Still, with the defense struggling to stay healthy and stop opponents through the air, it could be another opportunity for the offense to win the game.
From the sounds of the things, the Cowboys are more than confident Romo can bounce back.
"I have great faith in Tony because I've been around him when he's done so many great things for us in all quarters of the game to help us win a lot of ballgames around here," head coach Jason Garrett said. "There's a tremendous amount of evidence to that. He's not perfect. Nobody's perfect. I think you look at how he stacks up with a lot of other players in this league at that position and he stacks up very favorably. We're fortunate to have him as our quarterback and excited to see him play this week."