Moments after watching the Dallas Cowboys narrowly pull out a win over the Minnesota Vikings, I switched the channel to catch the closing moments of the Washington Redskins contest with the San Diego Chargers. Almost immediately, the network cut away from that game for an update on the final score in Dallas. Nothing unusual there, happens each week, right? What struck me as unusual was the fact the the announcer (I wish I could have recognized whose voice it was) referred to Tony Romo as "being clutch". Yes, you heard me right, the national media used the word clutch in reference to the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and there was no negative connotation to the statement and no mention of the fourth-quarter interception that had preceded the Cowboys game winning drive.
The two-minute, 90-yard drive was the 19th such fourth quarter or overtime come from behind win of Tony Romo's career. That gives him more game winning drives than some guy named Roger Staubach, whom folks around Dallas seem to think was a pretty fair quarterback. Judging from his celebration, you would have thought that Romo had just won the Super Bowl.
With the season quite possibly on the brink, Romo coolly completed 7 of 9 passes for 90 yards while marching the Cowboys 90 yards in nine plays. The 2-minute, 9-second drive came one week after the 31-30 meltdown in Detroit and allowed Dallas (5-4) to retain sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
As Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett would state during the post game presser, "It was as important of a drive as we've had all year long." A loss would have dropped the Cowboys record to 4-5 for the season and would have cost the team sole possession of first place in the NFC East. In spite of what many would have you to believe, taking over a game in the fourth quarter or overtime is something that the Cowboys QB does quite well. Romo, who led the league with five fourth-quarter comebacks last year, was partly responsible for all 90 yards of Sunday’s game-winning drive.
"I know a lot of people want to talk about some of these plays or games where things didn’t work out, but if you really look at his body of work and you look at it objectively, he’s done this kind of stuff a lot. He’s done it a lot throughout his career." - Jason Garrett
On Sunday afternoon, it was Tony Romo and his will to win that enabled the Dallas Cowboys to reach down inside and find what they needed to avoid a second straight loss to an NFC North team. According to rookie center Travis Frederick, it was the quarterback's bearing and leadership in the huddle that kept things under control and helped the team to execute on the crucial game-winning drive.
"He worked to keep everybody else steady. He's very confident, and there's never any change in his demeanor." - Travis Frederick
Future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten concurred in his assessment of how his quarterback and best friend impacted the offense.
"Tony did a phenomenal job; just a really great job, as good as I’ve seen him in a long time as far as directing traffic and finding throws and staying poised with his decision-making. It’s kind of what he does best." - Jason Witten
To quote Bryan Broaddus, over at the mothership, the Dallas signal-caller played his absolute best when his team needed him the most. The Cowboys coaching staff put the ball in Romo's hands and asked him to make plays when it mattered the most and, as he has done for the team many times in the past, Tony Romo grabbed the bull by the horns. Refusing to lose, he lead the team on the 90-yard drive which saw him go seven for nine passing as he completed passes to four different receivers, culminating in the seven yard pitch and catch with Dwayne Harris to put the Cowboys ahead with 35 seconds left in the game.
"It was important for us to win," Romo stated while talking to the media after the game. "We never doubted we'd find a way." Although there may be a "stigma" associated with the misconception of Tony Romo's late game performance, being in situations, such as the one he found himself in against the Vikings, is something that the quarterback relishes.
"I know as a quarterback, you love to be in those situations...I relish being out there in those situations to be able to go and help our football team win. When you go do that, it’s a great feeling and it just reiterated everything you put into it." - Tony Romo
Jason Witten summed everything up nicely when speaking of the drive which snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. "It's hard for any of us to take credit other than (Romo). He orchestrated the whole thing." For some reason, I can hear echoes of something that was often said by members on the 70's era Cowboys teams. "We never lost a game with Roger as the quarterback; however, sometimes we did run out of time." From what is being said by the current day players, I suspect that his teammates feel the same way about Tony Romo.