The Dallas Cowboys could not stop Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. Mike and Kyle Shanahan's read-option was making the Cowboys look silly. Late in the fourth quarter, the defense finally makes a big play. Anthony Spencer's timely sack on third down forced the Redskins to punt.
With the Cowboys trailing the Redskins by just three points, the defense finally delivered and gave Tony Romo and the rest of the offense an opportunity to win the game. This was the opportunity Romo was waiting for. In a big moment he had a chance to drive his team down the field and win a huge game that would send his team into the playoffs.
Things started off well with a 14-yard pass to tight end Jason Witten, but on the very next play disaster struck. Romo never saw Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson leak out to cover running back DeMarco Murray. Instead of playing it safe by taking a sack or throwing it away, Romo threw an errant pass while fading back off of one foot.
I can't defend Tony Romo for that throw. Because of the pressure, Romo never threw the ball with balance and his mechanics were sloppy. It will probably go down as one of his worst passes in his NFL career. That turnover not only cost the Cowboys the game, it really hammered home Romo's public perception.
As he walked off the field, the NBC cameras cashed in on Romo's facial expressions. I've watched a lot of sporting events in my life, but that was by far the saddest moment I have ever seen in sports. Romo is a very good quarterback who possess a lot of physical talent, but he's also just a great person. It's really hard to see someone like Tony be so upset with himself, and you could tell he felt terrible about what happened.
Here is what Tony said after the game.
"It will take me a while, because I put everything I had into this, and it's a hard thing when it ends like this," Romo said. "It's going to be a rough time for me because I know how much effort and time it took to get into this position. I know how much you have to work for your football team to get into this position."
If Romo weren't so easy to like, then maybe it would be easier for me to trash the guy, but I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. He let his team down, and he is going to live with that interception for the rest of his life. As fans of the Cowboys, we may not like RG3, but the kid is a complete class act. Look at what he said to Romo when they met after the game.
"Hey Tony. I just wanted to say to you, don’t listen to what anybody else is saying about you. You’re a great quarterback, man. And this game doesn’t mean anything,"
Griffin didn't have to do that. He could have just shook hands and said "good game", but he took the time to offer Romo respect.
With another 8-8 season, the Cowboys have now missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. There is a lot of speculation right now about what course of action the franchise should take, but can they really afford to walk away from a quarterback who is as talented as Romo?
Gil Brandt has an entire article on why the Cowboys should part ways with their current quarterback, which you can read here. Brandt has devoted his life to the game of football and he has years of experience. I won't say that everything in his article is correct because I do disagree with most of it, but you do have to take a moment and consider what he is saying.
Really what it comes down to is that the Cowboys are a flawed team. They clearly have issues on the offensive line and that puts whoever is at quarterback in a difficult position. Romo can be great at times, but when the Cowboys ask him to carry them, he can try to do too much. Taking risks and going for the big play is what makes him so dangerous, so I don't think you will see Romo change his game too much.
Jason Garrett has already come out and said that he believes in Romo and Jerry Jones has also showed his public support for him. Romo has one year remaining on his contract, so the franchise is going to roll with him for another season. I just can't see the franchise making a break with Romo like Brandt suggests because it's just not a good time for that.
For starters, this isn't a very good quarterback class. Now, I have no problem with the team drafting a quarterback, but there isn't a Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson type of player who is going to come in and have an immediate impact.
It's not like the Cowboys have owned a draft pick high enough to land a marquee talent at the position. Outside of Aaron Rodgers and Wilson, they really haven't had the opportunity to acquire a talented quarterback who has the skill of Romo. If they want to draft a quarterback this year, then by all means do it. I believe that you should always be in the market to add more talent at the quarterback position. You can draft and groom his replacement, but that doesn't mean you can really expect that quarterback to replace Romo right now.
The only way the Cowboys can improve this offseason is by addressing their needs on the offensive line.
By finally upgrading the offensive line, the Cowboys will be able to develop a strong running game. They have the running back, they just need the blockers. We've said it every week this season, but imagine Romo with time to throw the football. Imagine an offense where A-Gap blitzes aren't a weekly cause for concern. I truly believe if Jerry Jones gives his quarterback the line he deserves, then Romo will have some playoff success.
This team must continue to build around Romo, not give up on him. If they upgrade the talent around Romo and he fails again, then you cannot blame the Cowboys for going in another direction, but it's not the time for that.
Romo wasn't supposed to be a good quarterback, he was an undrafted free agent who defied the odds of even making an NFL roster. He isn't the most popular player right now, but let's give him another opportunity before we run him out of town.