With this post, I examine and make my peace with Tony Romo and if he can ever overcome his late game woes.
Now lets the paint the scene from Sunday.
Tony Romo is having a career day, setting the franchise record with 506 passing yards, also adding five touchdowns.
For much of the game, Romo has out-dueled Peyton Manning. Yes, Peyton Manning, who might just be playing the best football of his career. When the Cowboys got the ball back in a 48-48 game, Romo showed no signs of slowing down.
Cowboys fans were poised to see his breakthrough performance, and the statement win that could ultimately turn their season around.
Then, the hearts at AT&T stadium broke. AGAIN.
Romo threw an interception with 1:57 remaining in the fourth quarter on an inexcusable pass. Almost in shock, Cowboys fans and Romo watched the Denver Broncos run out the clock and kick a game winning field goal as time expired.
At 21 years old, I have never had so many mixed emotions over any player more than Romo.
There’s the jaw droppers, then elation. There’s the head-scratchers, and then the fist pumps.
Back and forth. Forth and back.
For example, from today, my heart says: Romo helped the Cowboys put up 48 points at home, and lost. At home. The defense had to help him. It can’t always lay on his shoulders. He just threw for a franchise record 506 yards and the only reason the team was in the game was because he carried them on his back. Jason Garrett could have given him another chance if he just allowed the Broncos to score on that 3rd and 1 from the 2-yard line.
My head says: Romo blew the game. Romo thinks more about making a mistake in critical situations than making a play. DeMarco Murray was wide open on a check down pass on the play he was intercepted. As a veteran, you can’t throw a pick from your own 24-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in a tie game. He has to know better. Romo could have knocked off the best quarterback in the NFL and could have had his statement win. Now he’s just simply the quarterback of a below average 2-3 football team. He proves time and time again that he is just unable to handle big time moments.
These self-conscious divisions happen on a daily and weekly basis.
Heart: He’s going to pull through. He just has to.
Head: He’s never going to learn. He always will continue to break my heart.
Heart: Clutch! And Underrated!
Head: Loser! Mediocre! Wake up already! No matter what good Tony does he will always cancel it with something bad. He will continually just be good enough to break fans hearts.
It just seems as if Romo is missing something, almost something like a clutch gene. But he’s been clutch before, so I won’t say he’s missing that. He’s just missing something as a human. And that’s natural. Some people have that “it” factor, Romo does not.
I feel it comes down to his own self-perception. Deep down, Romo knows he’s still that undrafted free agent quarterback from Eastern Illinois. He doesn’t trust himself that he can be great in the big time moments to win.
There’s a voice in his head that keeps telling him he will crumble when it matters the most. And he does. Time and time again. In these clutch, big-time moments, Romo thinks more about making a mistake than making that play to win. And you can’t blame him; who doesn’t worry about making mistakes in critical situations? He’s human after all, but it’s not “OK” to be just human when you’re the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, America’s team.
Even after writing this post, I still can’t make a decision on Romo and if he will ever overcome his late game catastrophes.
Heart: The Cowboys are still tied for first place in the NFC East. Romo will go get it next week. We’ll have a chance to win our division with him at the helm. He’s just poised for that breakthrough. It’s going to happen. There’s still time for him to rewrite his legacy…
Head: The team will miss the playoffs again. Romo will find another way to mess up when it matters the most. Just give up on him.
No matter what happens with Romo, he will continue to tear me and other Cowboys fans apart. My heart still tells me yes, but my mind continues to tell me no. Romo does so much good for this team, but in the end something always seems to go wrong.
However, you can’t help but cheer or root against him from week to week.
It’s perhaps one of the best spectacles in sports, I call it the Tony Romo conundrum.
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