There are many media and fans out there trying to blame the loss on Romo, which is ludicrous considering he threw for over 500 yards and had five touchdowns to just one interception. He was the only reason the team was even close to winning, dodging pass rushers and aggressively throwing the ball down the field better than anyone could ever expect a quarterback to. The offensive line didn’t hold up very well in this game, and Romo didn’t let it phase him, save for one mistake.
And that one mistake was admittedly a costly one. But you wouldn’t pin a loss on a starting pitcher who gives up a home run in the ninth inning just short of a perfect game or a goalie who saves 40 shots but gives up one goal late in the game. No one would blame LeBron James if he missed a buzzer beater after scoring 60 points if the team went on to lose. At a certain point, you can’t expect a truly flawless game from any player. Eventually his teammates have to pick up the slack, and the Cowboys failed to do that for Romo on Sunday.
One of the common complaints about Romo is that he’ll have a phenomenal game and then blow it late as the team is trying to come back. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would never make a mistake so costly late in the game, they say. First of all, Brady threw an interception as the New England Patriots were trying to come back earlier in that same day, so that’s just not even true.
The real difference between Romo and the “elite” quarterbacks is the team around him. The 48 points scored by the Cowboys marked the most in a loss since the Houston Oilers did it in the AFL back in 1963.
When Manning or Brady have great games, the team around them does enough so that they don’t have to be forcing passes in the fourth quarter. When a quarterback is on fire the way Romo was, the team should have a big lead and should be milking the clock at the end of the game, not trying to go ahead in a 48-point tie. It seems to happen frequently that Romo is fighting to catch up or stay ahead, rather than building a big lead.
Granted, Manning was in a similar situation in that game, but it was clear that Romo was having to work much harder than Manning to have similar success. Manning’s receivers were wide open the whole game while Romo had to be much more precise to get the ball past the defense. Manning wasn’t sacked and was hurried just a handful of times, but Romo was running for his life, making plays magically appear when it looked like he was going to be sacked for a loss. On top of that, the Broncos were able to run the ball effectively, while the Cowboys were essentially shut out in the run game.
The Cowboys would be wise to let Romo be Romo the way he was on Sunday, as they had absolutely zero chance to win that game without him. If they could get him a running game and especially a quality defense, they would be among the top teams in the league and Romo would be mentioned in the same breath as Manning and Brady. Until then, it’s going to be the same old story, coming up short even when Romo is at his best.