Oh, how close Tony Romo was from not being scrutinized in one of his best performances during an agonizing 51-48 defeat to the Denver Broncos in one of the most memorable football games in the history of the NFL. Oh, how close Romo was to leading his team in a dramatic comeback only see him force a pass to Gavin Escobar that Danny Trevathan intercepted at the Dallas Cowboys‘ own 24-yard line, which became the precursor to the game winning field goal by Broncos kicker Matt Prater.
Oh, how close the Cowboys were to being alone in first place in the NFC East only to squander their chances and find themselves tied with the Philadelphia Eagles with all the blame directed at one lone wolf: Romo. However, should Romo take the blunt of the criticism and be fully responsible for contributing to a Cowboys loss?
Fans and the majority of the media will argue Romo was unable to be clutch when it counted the most and he did what everyone thought he would do when the game was on the line: choke. A poorly timed interception has clouded everyone’s judgement because without Romo’s career day, where he passed for 506 yards and five touchdowns, the Cowboys would have never had a shot to defeating the Broncos. When folks were doubting the Cowboys could recover from a 35-20 deficit in the third quarter, Romo single-handedly brought them back in front briefly late in the fourth quarter at 48-41. However, what everyone will remember is when he literally threw the game away.
Let’s forget about the fact his defense, orchestrated by Monte Kiffin, did not bother to show up as they allowed 517 yards, including 414 in the air by Peyton Manning . Or let’s forget about the fact the defense allowed 34 first downs and they were unable to put any pressure on Manning by recording zero sacks. Or let’s forget about the fact that the Cowboys were penalized a season-high nine times for 81 yards including an unnecessary roughness penalty on Ernie Sims which aided in the Broncos’ first touchdown drive, George Selvie‘s face-mask penalty that contributed to Manning’s second touchdown pass of the game, and Sean Lee‘s pass interference penalty that led to Manning’s one-yard rushing touchdown. And lastly, let’s forget completely about head coach Jason Garrett squandering the last chance for the Cowboys to get the ball back by not allowing Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno to simply walk into the end zone with a 1:45 left and instead being confident his defense could somehow stop the Broncos offense and prevent a first down even though it could not all game long. Instead, the clock wound down to zero after Prater’s field goal successfully sailed through the uprights.
Unfortunately, a lot people are going to forget. People are going to forget sports are about the entire team effort and accountability should be placed on everyone on the roster. And unfortunately for Romo, as Harvey Dent put it in “The Dark Knight”, ‘you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’
Ryan Neiman writes for Rants Sports covering Dallas Cowboys Football. You can follow him at Twitter @FantasyUSports or @RyanNAnthony.