Can Tony Romo Break His Late-Game, Late-Season Curses?
By Kenny Decker
With Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, Tony Romo’s record in December and January dropped to 13-21. He threw two fourth quarter interceptions, and the Cowboys lost a game that they seemed to be in complete control of — not only at halftime but, again, when they stretched their fourth quarter lead to 12.
Romo’s two interceptions in the fourth quarter led the media and analysts to fall back on his poor December reputation along with his fourth quarter struggles. Once again, it keeps being brought up how poor Romo’s record is in December and January and how he can’t win but rather loses the late-season games when Dallas needs wins most.
But the nonsense needs to stop.
Romo certainly didn’t win this game for Dallas, and he had an opportunity to do that. But there is no way he can take full blame for this loss. He can’t take blame for the oft-mentioned December/January record either. Statistically, Romo’s stats decline in December and January, but so do Tom Brady’s. Romo hasn’t won like Brady has, and one can argue that Romo certainly hasn’t took over and won late-season games like Brady. But he hasn’t lost them either. This past Sunday against Green Bay, there is much more to blame than just Romo.
1. The defense. They allowed five touchdowns in the second half on five consecutive drives. They did not get one defensive stop in the final 30 minutes against an offense plagued with injuries and run by backup QB Matt Flynn. 34 second half points is pitiful. Think that one through: the defense gives up 34 second half points to a backup quarterback and an offensive player is being blamed for the loss. Yeah, right, that makes sense.
2. The play-calling. Up 29-17 with time running down in the third quarter, Dallas ran three straight pass plays. Two were incomplete, and Romo took a sack for a 13-yard loss on third down. DeMarco Murray had been running right through the Packers defense all game. There is no reason why Dallas shouldn’t have run the football on both first and second down — absolutely no reason to throw the football. If Dallas runs the football in the second half the same way they did in the first half, the game never gets close enough for Romo to throw two interceptions to lose it.
3. Effort. There is no telling what happened to the Dallas Cowboys that went into the locker room at halftime with a 26-3 lead. Did they get too confident? Did they start thinking ahead to a clinching possibility next week in Washington? Were they too tired in the second half? Did they give up once they relinquished the lead with 1:31 left in the game? Who knows, but the effort was lost. They looked deflated out there, and their confidence had to be shook on defense. But there is no excuse for lack of effort.
Side note: Cole Beasley stopped running on Romo’s second interception. He clearly stops his route and the ball sails past him into the waiting arms of Tramon Williams. He stopped running?
So, clearly there were other reasons why Dallas lost on Sunday besides Romo. However, he did have an opportunity to win the game back on the final possession. He had a chance to shake the monkey off his back for having fourth quarter woes. He had a chance to win the game for Dallas, and he didn’t.
So how does Tony Romo break these fourth quarter and December curses that seem to be hurting his overall reputation as a very good NFL quarterback? Well, he has two weeks left to do it. Despite being blown out in Chicago and losing a game that was in their hands to win, Dallas still controls their own destiny. If they win out, they are in the playoffs as NFC East Champs.
Romo has a chance to shake this monkey off his back. He has a chance to take Dallas into the playoffs — a place where anything can happen. After seeing the NFC North completely flip itself upside down, throwing the Lions into third place and giving the Bears the driver’s seat, it can be asserted that something crazy can and will happen in the NFC Playoffs. If Dallas gets in, a new season starts.
Romo can make people forget about this past Sunday real quickly: win and win. That’s it. If he wins these last two games for Dallas, people will forget how he lost to Green Bay in Week 15. His defense will need to decide if they will help him out, but Romo has to play flawless football these last two weeks. He has to perform well — not just early or late — but all game long.
Either game could be decided in the fourth quarter, and Romo needs to bring out his spectacular late-game play that people forget about — the league lead in fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives since 2011. Then, maybe, just maybe, people will cut the nonsense about Romo losing games for Dallas.