The Dallas Cowboys announced that Tony Romo had back surgery this morning and will not play in the season finale on Sunday night, nor any playoff games should the Cowboys win. This ended four days’ worth of speculation on whether or not he would suit up for the de facto division title game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
There has been a narrative over the past few years that Romo is not a good quarterback, that he chokes in the clutch. While there are plenty of examples of games where he has had an opportunity to come through for the Cowboys and the team lost, the fact of the matter is that this narrative is hideously unfair to Romo.
The most recent example is the loss to Green Bay nearly two weeks ago. The Cowboys blew a 26-3 lead, but the only thing that fans point out – goaded on by the media, too – is that Romo threw an interception to effectively end the game. You know what? Take a look at any football game ever: there is a really good chance that, minus a few kneeldowns, it’s going to end on an interception. When you’re trying to score in a short period of time, passing is the way to go, and you don’t often have the time to be picky. That’s a recipe for a turnover for anyone, not just Tony Romo. And yet, none of that even comes into play if your defense can hold on to a 23-point lead in the second half.
On Sunday, a clearly gimpy Romo led his team to the winning score. “Oh, that’s just one time!” people said. And yet, according to ESPN’s Stats and Info Twitter feed (a very good follow, by the way), Peyton Manning has the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2006 with 25. Tied for second? Tony Romo! Over the last eight years, only one man has led his team to victory late in the game more often than Romo.
Of course, the losses stick out more than the wins. Part of that is the prominence of the Cowboys in the national spotlight: success and failures alike are magnified when you play for “America’s Team.” But keep this in mind as well: the reason that Romo has had so many opportunities to lead game-winning drives – and game-losing drives, as it were – is because the Cowboys play a lot of close games. That’s not just Romo’s fault. That’s on the player personnel people, the coaching staffs, and the other 52 guys on the roster. The Cowboys simply haven’t been very good over the last eight years.
As an Eagles fan, I obviously hope that the Cowboys lose on Sunday night. As someone who is tired of the constant bashing of Tony Romo, I hope they do so embarrassingly in his absence.