October 6, 2013

Only Romo: A record-setting day ends with a killer interception

You can’t really blame Sunday’s loss to Denver on Tony Romo, can you? Well, yes.

You can’t, can you?

Not on the same day when he out-throws even Mr. Peyton ...

Not on the same day when he wipes out 50 years of franchise history for air yardage ...

Not on the same day when he’s linked with the immortal Dandy-roo, Don Meredith his ownself ...

You can’t really blame it on Tony Romo, can you?

Well, yes.

Yes, you can. After unbeaten Denver’s 51-48 win, with a field goal at the buzzer, it was actually Romo who explained it best afterward:

“It’s really just about winning.”

No matter if the blame is right or wrong, there it was on Sunday, late in the afternoon, at the end of an amazing shootout of a classic contest, when Romo continued his legacy of being the most star-crossed quarterback in Dallas Cowboys history.

By the way, the guy he replaced as most star-crossed?

Dandy Don.

If it’s any consolation, Meredith was booed out of town in the ’60s, but today is remembered with great reverence.

Unlike Dandy, however, premature retirement is not in Romo’s immediate plans, and also don’t look for Tony to climb into the TV booth and become the most beloved football commentator of his era, a la Meredith.

Instead, Romo has to live with yet another jaw-dropping moment when one big mistake tainted the best game of his quarterbacking life, and the best game, production-wise, for a Cowboys QB ever.

Five touchdown passes centered around 506 yards of air yardage, the latter erasing a Meredith record that had stood since 1963.

Romo’s arm got the Cowboys off to a roaring start, and once Mr. Peyton took over, pushing the Broncos into a commanding lead, it was Romo’s arm that brought the Cowboys’ back, reclaiming the lead with over half the fourth quarter gone.

But Mr. Peyton is always Mr. Peyton. Don’t give him last call against any defense.

It was a tie game at 48-48 and the Cowboys had, hopefully, the final shot with 2:39 remaining.

From the 20-yard line, first came a sack. On second down came the interception, deep in Cowboys’ territory.

Stuff happens. With Tony, this kind of stuff has happened repeatedly, except, of course, never after the greatest game for a quarterback in franchise history.

He threw the dang pick. And really, he threw a duck, ripe for picking. In the end, fair or not, the blame was on Romo. Forget fair, that’s just the nature of the position.

The rookie tight end, Gavin Escobar, was the receiver of choice on the pick. The pass floated a bit. It ended up in the paws of linebacker Danny Trevathan.

“I just didn’t get as much on [the throw],” Romo said. “I wanted to put it another two feet out in front, and I didn’t put it exactly where I need to. It’s frustrating.”

The sack on first down had put the Cowboys up against it. That was a coverage sack, and not even Romo, who had been sensational all afternoon in making plays off the scramble, could escape as he moved right.

On second-and-16, Romo was attempting to get out of that hole.

“You’ve got to pull the trigger,” he said. “In hindsight, I’d rather do anything than what we did there.”

Of course, in this loss, there was also a Cowboys defense that Mr. Peyton carved up. But it was a defense that spent most of the second half keeping the Broncos out of the end zone.

There were also decisions in the final showdown minutes that will leave Jason Garrett open for the second-guess. Should he have accepted a penalty before Denver’s tying touchdown? At the very end, why not let the Broncos score a touchdown from the 1-yard line and take a chance (with no timeouts) on another possession with about 90 seconds on the clock?

But the Romo pick was the game-deciding moment.

Asked if it was fair to say Romo lost the game, Garrett answered, “That’s not the way we talk. ... I thought Tony played a fantastic football game. You know, we were up and down the field; he made fantastic throws throughout the game all over the field.”

But then came the kicker.

Added Garrett: “Unfortunately, in that particular case, they made the play and that was the difference-making play.”

The dang pick.

For what it’s worth, however, Romo even got a postgame shoutout, unprompted, from Mr. Peyton.

“Well, I haven’t studied Dallas’ offense that much,” Manning said, “but certainly Tony was awesome today.”

Only Tony.

Throw five TD passes, break a 50-year-old franchise record held by the Dandy-roo, put 48 points on the board, and yet ...

The blame game found him again.

Up there in football heaven, we can wager Dandy Don was telling Coach Landry, “Been there, Tom. Done that, too.”

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

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