By mark rogers
December 12, 2011

A quick analysis of the box score from last night's heart breaking, gut wrenching 37-34 loss to the Giants reveals that the secondary blew the game for Dallas.

The secondary has, once again, blown a late lead. They've moved the Cowboys from being in the driver's seat of the division race and a playoff berth, to a more likely scenario of missing the post season altogether.

Is that unreasonable to think? Not at all. Eli Manning threw for a gaudy 400 yards. The defense gave up more than 500 yards to the Giants. They allowed a 100 yard rusher AND receiver. The defense, as a unit, committed stupid penalties and made amateurish mental mistakes.

But, in my opinion, the defense does not get the blame for this loss.

Tony Romo does.

Wait!! What?? Romo completed 67% of his passes, threw for 300+ yards, 4 touchdowns and NO interceptions! What do you mean it's his fault?? He couldn't have played better!

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...I give you...Exhibit A.

3rd and 5. 2:25 to go. Dallas up 34-29. Giants come with an all-out blitz. Miles Austin beats his man in man coverage...he's WIDE OPEN. Pass falls incomplete.

That's it.

That's all I need to see. Romo's stats might as well have said: 0-1, 0 yards, 0 TDs, because that was the play that mattered.

If that pass is completed, Dallas wins the game, has a two game lead on the Giants and, barring a Boston Redsox-type collapse (which isn't out of the question from this team), is going to the playoffs.

And I know all the arguments to this opinion:
"they wouldn't have been in that position without Romo"
"if the defense could stop someone, he wouldn't have to complete that pass"
"if our kicking game wasn't in the toilet all of a sudden, we would have forced OT"

I know the arguments. But none of them matter.

Here's what matters:
In the moment, all things leading to that one, single moment. Game on the line, Clutch time. Glory time. Prove yourself to the fans and critics time. Incomplete.

Joe Montana completes that pass. The Manning brothers complete that pass. Ben Roethlisberger completes that pass. Drew Brees completes that pass. Tom Brady completes that pass. Roger Staubach completes that pass. Troy Aikman completes that pass. Aaron Rodgers completes that pass. John Elway completes that pass. Tim Tebow completes that pass (OK..that was a joke).

You get the idea.

That list of QBs (less Tebow - who I hope wins 19 Super Bowls by the way), didn't use their defenses or their amazing stats as excuses. When they find/found themselves in a do or die situation...they do (or did)...they don't die.

And as much as I love what Tony Romo does on the field, and how good a QB he is...he dies in those situations (remember the botched snap at Seattle? Exhibit B).

I hope Romo proves me wrong about being clutch. I hope he can do what Bobby Bowden, Mack Brown, Dirk Nowitzki, and John Elway did. Those guys were able to shed the "can't win the big one" monkeys from their backs after years of carrying it. But those are rare instances.

For all intents and purposes...usually you are what you are this late into a career. Romo's not a burgeoning, young, influential QB. He is what he is.

And at this point, he's proven time and time again that he's a really, really good QB...he's just not a great one.

Not when it's 3rd and 5, with the game on the line, with 2 minutes left and your team desperately needing you to hit a wide open receiver.

I wanted so bad for Romo to blossom into a great QB and lead Dallas to a handful of Super Bowls. And he still could lead Dallas to the promised land.

But, if I was a betting man, I'd put my money on it never happening under his control. And that makes me sad.

Stereotypes are usually stereotypes for a reason...trends are analyzed as trends for a reason...because a pattern develops, and there's some truth to the pattern.

Romo's pattern or formula goes something like this.

Great early in season and in November + regular 300 yard passing games + mobility + gunslinger - chokes in December - 4th quarter turnovers = Tony Romo.


This site does not necessarily agree with comments posted below.

Steven E on December 12, 2011 10:33 AM

In no way am I defending Romo, he should have hit that WR, but he gets part of the blame. Yes, that would have iced it for the Cowboys had that pass been completed, but other reasons:

the defense got NO sacks, while blitzing more than half the plays.

The offensive line continues to be a problem. The Giants were able to apply pressure even when they weren't blitzing. No way a sack should occur when you are bringing 3 linemen to the QB.

The defensive line couldn't stop ANY running from Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw.

The secondary looks horrible! We don't have one good defensive back out there. AND on top of it, we sign Sensabaugh to a 5 year deal? Genuis. Manning is going to get his yards...but seriously...400? Ridiculous.

And even though Glass legs Jones ran the ball well, that fumble hurt, even if it only resulted in a field goal - which by the way equals to the points we lost the game by...

And where was Jason Witten all night? Seriuosly? Their linebacking core looks like the same group from Plano HS back in the late 90's. You can't tell me we couldn't get the ball to him more often?

My feeling is Romo only gets part of the blame...When we needed our defense to stop the Giants with 4 minutes left AND a 12 point lead, they continued to play horribly. Basically, we have 1 pass rusher - Ware. We have 1 good LB - Lee. We don't have ANY good defensive backs. And our scheme only hurts us - Rob Ryan's defense is a joke.

By the way, with Murray out, so are the Cowboys chances of making the playoffs. I say they lose two of their next three games and willl not continue on. Ultimately, this is NOT a good NFL team. I say they are at the middle towards the bottom of the NFL. They CAN be a great team, but due to the reasons above, they never will win a Super Bowl with this group.

One more thing, the Giants are playing well. They are losing the type of games we should have lost (i.e. Miami, San Francisco, etc...) until this one. They will win the NFC East and play for the NFC Championship. They have guts, we have wanna be's. They have passion, we have actors. They have a fire in them, we go play golf and go on vacation between playoff games. Done. We are done.

Shawn Speck on December 13, 2011 1:54 PM

I completely DISAGREE with you. That is one pass, the game is more than one play long in case you have forgotten. If he didnt play so good then how is it that dallas was in the game to begin with when the defense gives up over 500 yards of offense. Let me say that again 500 yards of total offense given up by our defense. This game rest solely on the defense and the defensive coordinator. You would agree if you and the rest of the nation werent trying to be so hard on Romo. It is sad that all you can remember is that one play, where a real cowboy fan can look at the entire game.

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