He will not have the best numbers of his career, but this is the best Tony Romo has ever played in his life.
The irony is that, since he became the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, now he looks like he is on borrowed time physically.
The concerns about Romo’s back will persist until he retires, but the fears so many people had/have about his perceived penchant for throwing the wrong pass at the wrong time should be quieted.
He has become the calm quarterback who has a better understanding of his team, his teammates and his situation than at any point of his career. We no longer expect the worst from Tony Romo.
For the first time since 2007, Romo has the team around him — maybe not the defense — to finally do what so many have expected for so long.
“Let me say it this way — it will be, I think, the most negative thing about my ownership if Tony has a career here that we didn’t win a Super Bowl,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the Cowboys defeated the New York Giants 31-28 on Sunday night. “That will be the most negative thing — to have his talent, and for him to come through this organization and we not get a Super Bowl. He’s outstanding.”
Not sure everyone will agree with Jerry about that being the most negative thing. Firing Jimmy Johnson, trading for Roy Williams, drafting Quincy Carter, hiring Wade Phillips ... the “most negative” list is endless in Jerry’s stewardship.
But everyone should agree that Romo, since the start of Week 2, has been outstanding. His body is not working at 100 percent, but his mind is more than compensating.
Watching Romo trot out on the field with three minutes remaining and down four in the fourth quarter Sunday night, there was no feeling of impending doom or that he was going to have another one of those “Romo moments.”
This moment just felt like Romo would motor the ball down the field, and that would be it.
It should be noted that his offensive line gave him no less than 34 minutes of protection on a pair of passes on that decisive drive. It should also be noted that this is easily the best offense Romo has ever played on in his time with the Cowboys.
This unit is better than the 2007 group, too.
It should also be noted that so many of the previous “Romo moments” — where he would revert to some wild, street-ball behavior that drove you nuts — are simply no longer there.
“Through experience through time you have to go to a certain mindset,” Romo said after the game. “It’s a calming feeling because you are doing what was decided before the game.”
No longer is he “Kill! Kill! Kill”–ing calls at the line of scrimmage to opt for a play that will lead to a game-changing interception, or incompletion.
Not that he is perfect, but what we have here is an older, wiser player who knows what to do and when to do it.
His completion percentage is nearly 70 percent for the season, and since his Week 1 disaster against the San Francisco 49ers when he threw three interceptions, he has only three other picks.
Romo is still fighting the effects of the back injuries and surgeries, and the reality is his new reality might never allow him to do what he once did.
“I felt a little bit better. Hopefully in a week or so I’ll be where I want to be,” he said.
While both Romo and you prefer he was free of back pain, what we have seen is that he actually is a better player despite the physical limitations.
Against the Giants, he was patient to a fault, and at no point did he ever make some kick-the-TV decision that had previously characterized his play. He threw four touchdown passes, the final one to Dez Bryant with 61 seconds remaining to conclude a seven-play, 80-yard game-winning drive.
No longer is he trying to do more than the situation calls for — maybe because he can’t — but more likely because he realizes he no longer has to wear a cape for this team to have a chance.
His supporting cast is as deep and as good as it’s ever been, and so is he.
Tony Romo is 34, with a bad back, but he has never been a better player.
Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports/.