Tony Romo fell down, and the Dallas Cowboys’ season isn’t getting up.
Romo’s celebrated return lasted less than two games as he likely has played his last down in 2015. Not that the Cowboys have much left to play for after a 33-14 spanking at the hands of the undefeated Carolina Panthers.
Romo and the team fears the quarterback has fractured his left collarbone for the second time in 10 weeks. X-rays proved inconclusive, but a CT scan Friday likely confirms the worst.
“Obviously, it doesn’t feel right, so we’ll see,” said Romo, who wore a sling on his left arm. “It has a similar-type feeling [as the last fracture], but you never know until you get it X-rayed and all that stuff. We’ll see after the CT scan.”
The hit by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis looked eerily similar to the previous hit Romo took from Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks that fractured Romo’s collarbone in Week 2. (Giants linebacker Michael Boley put a similar hit on Romo in 2010, breaking Romo’s left collarbone and forcing the quarterback to miss 10 games.)
All of Davis’ 235 pounds landed on top of Romo, driving his left shoulder into the ground on the final play of the third quarter.
The AT&T Stadium crowd of 90,909 turned as silent as mourners, their quarterback on the ground, writhing in pain, and their season in about the same shape.
“Ah, not again man,” receiver Cole Beasley said he was thinking. “Just hoping he gets up. Just hope he’s all right.
“It’s tough, man, anytime you lose your main guy. You hurt to see him go down again. That’s the kind of thing we go through as players, getting injured and stuff like that, but twice in a season right when you get back, that’s hard, man. I know he’s hurting. I feel bad for him. We’ve just got to move on and keep playing.”
The Cowboys insist Romo did not return prematurely from the initial fracture, which sent him to short-term injured reserve.
“I think anytime you break a bone, there is a chance you can do something like that,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “I still believe, and obviously the doctors will stand by that, and Tony felt good about it. We feel that he did the right thing.”
It’s not like the Cowboys’ savior, as defensive end Jeremy Mincey referred to Romo after last week’s game, was going to save the day on this day.
Romo, who had thrown 11 pick-sixes in his career before Thursday, was intercepted three times in the first half. Safety Kurt Coleman and linebacker Luke Kuechly each had returns for touchdowns, and the Cowboys trailed 23-3 at halftime.
“I don’t know,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said, when asked what was wrong with Romo early. “It was obvious something wasn’t right. It was uncharacteristic of him, and it’s not just him. We’ve got to look at what we were doing, but it certainly was not the same. Something wasn’t quite right with us.”
Romo finished with the second-lowest passer rating of his career at 27.2. Only a 22.2 in a 2007 game against Philadelphia ranked worse.
It marked the second consecutive year Romo failed to handle the short Thanksgiving turnaround. Last year, the Cowboys lost 33-10 to the Philadelphia Eagles as Romo was intercepted twice with no touchdowns and a 53.7 rating.
“I worked hard to come back and get myself acclimated to the game,” Romo said. “In some ways, I just couldn’t quite get myself into the right mental framework. When I say that, I mean the way that I am used to playing. It takes a little time. Some of the poor decisions that were made were just uncharacteristic and very frustrating. It cost our team and put us in a big hole. You can’t do that against good football teams, and I am disappointed that I couldn’t play better.”