Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys still alive, but Tony Romo’s future probably brighter than playoff hopes

Tony Romo will miss the rest of the season after again breaking his left collarbone, but the quarterback is expected to make a full recovery.
Tony Romo will miss the rest of the season after again breaking his left collarbone, but the quarterback is expected to make a full recovery. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Dallas Cowboys lost another game, and they lost their starting quarterback again. Yet, the sun came up at Valley Ranch on Monday, at least metaphorically.

Despite their 3-8 record, the Cowboys remain in the hunt for the NFC East title — at least mathematically. The Giants’ loss to the Redskins gives those two teams the same 5-6 record atop the division, leaving the Eagles a game back and the Cowboys just two behind.

“It’s part of our message to provide perspective — here we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “We always talk about that. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about other teams in our division and what the standings are, but oftentimes you have to provide a perspective about where we are, where we want to go and how we want to do it.

“So that certainly will be part of the message when the players come back in on Wednesday.”

The Cowboys, though, no longer have Tony Romo to save their season. The starting quarterback, who went 3-1 this year, fractured his left collarbone for the second time in 10 weeks. He will not need surgery, and the team expects a full recovery.

The Cowboys will place Romo on injured reserve, activating Kellen Moore from the practice squad as the backup quarterback.

With an expected rehab time of eight weeks, Romo should return for the off-season program.

“We don’t anticipate this being a long-term thing at all,” Garrett said. “It’s the nature of quarterbacks. Sometimes when they get tackled, they get tackled here, and their bodyweight and the bodyweight of the defender lands on them.

“It’s happened to him. I don’t think it’s necessarily a weakness that he had. That’s happened before. We think he’s going to come back and be as strong as he’s ever been, and he’s going to be able to play without any issues.”

Romo, 35, also broke his left collarbone in 2010, missing the final 10 games of that season. He underwent two back surgeries in 2013 and fractured two transverse process in his back last season, costing him one game in each of the past two years.

The Cowboys, though, still have their future invested in Romo.

“We think Tony has a lot of football left in him,” Garrett said. “Unfortunately for him, the collarbone was broken a couple of times this year. We do think that’s an injury that will heal. We do think the back injury has gotten better and better over time.

“He’s more able to handle the work day to day and the work week to week. I think that’s improved. We do think the collarbone will heal, and he’s got a lot of football ahead of him.”

The Cowboys’ hopes to repeat as division champions rest on the right shoulder of Matt Cassel, who has gone 0-4 as the team’s starter since arriving Sept. 23 in a trade with the Bills.

“Matt’s experience with us in all the time that he’s played over the course of those four games that he’s started will benefit him,” Garrett said. “He came in, had to learn quickly, had to learn during the season, so there’s a lot of things you’re kind of catching up on when you come into a football team at that position at that time.

“I thought he did a good job learning it as quickly as he could and thought he got better as he played. I think he’ll have a chance to reflect back on those experiences that he had when he wasn’t playing, when Tony came back, and just kind of learn from my experiences and now I get a chance to sit and watch and then go back and play again.

“I think that’s a dynamic that happens to players that they can benefit from if they have the right mindset about it. I think you saw some of that in the game the other day. I thought he looked more comfortable in the game under those conditions on Thanksgiving and did a lot of good things for our team.”

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

Cowboys at Redskins

7:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN

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