Romo's destiny thwarted by...Patrick Crayton?

It’s that time of year again. The Dallas Cowboys first loss. Last week’s win over the Giants kept all the Cowboy haters in their dark caves, licking their wounds as they cowered from the brilliant sunshine. But good weather can’t last forever. Dark storm clouds rolled in, allowing the haters to emerge from their caves and roll around in the mud.

Inevitably, invariably, the Romo haters emerge from the muck. Because there cannot be a Cowboys loss without it being Romo’s fault. We’ve heard it all before. Romo struggles in the clutch. He sucks in the 4th quarter. He’s a choker, a fraud, a loser. He’s 1-6 in win or go home games.

He’s 1-6 in win or go home games.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am getting sick and tired of hearing that. And not just because I’m a Romo defender or anything, but because I hate how QBs have a win/loss record, as if they’re pitchers in the MLB. Football is the only major sport in the US where the players don’t play the whole game. Players in the NBA and MLB and NHL play both offense and defense. So I never understood why QBs get labeled with wins and losses when they only have control over 1/3 of the game.

Anyways, I digress. Is Tony Romo really at fault for all 6 losses in win or go home games? It’s so easy just to slap that record on him and call him a choker. That’s why I have endeavored to really delve into all 6 of these so-called losses in win or go home games. So without further ado, let’s find out why Tony Romo should curse Patrick Crayton’s name (as I do).

1st Loss – 2006 Wild Card Game, Seattle Seahawks 21 – Cowboys 20

Romo stat line: 17/29, 189 yards, 1 TD 0 Int

Stat line analysis: A solid outing for a 1st year starter playing in his very first playoff game, on the road in Seattle. Not quite up to par with his regular season performances when he stormed onto the scene, but it was very wet and drizzly that night.

Mitigating fact #1: Let’s start at the most obvious place; Romo’s fumbled snap on the go-ahead FG try. The ball was brand new and slick, not counting the fact that it was raining. I don’t how many people remember the old K-Ball rule, but they changed it after that season.

Mitigating fact #2: To my dying day, I will contend that there was not enough visual evidence to overturn Jason Witten’s first down catch on the play immediately before the infamous botched hold. If you remember, the refs initially gave Witten the first down and then overturned it on video replay. I still don’t see enough evidence…

Mitigating fact #3: Most people tend to forget (conveniently) that there was still 1:19 on the clock when they lined up for the go-ahead FG. That’s why Witten’s overturned first down was so huge. 1:19 is a lifetime in the NFL for those magical 2 minute offenses. Remember, all Seattle needed to do was get in FG range, as the score would have only been 23-21. Nobody seems capable of stopping those drives, so I think Seattle would have at least got in range for a FG try.

Mitigating fact #4: After Romo was tackled by a shoestring at the 2 yard line (curse your name Jordan Babineaux!!) Seattle was pinned deep against the end zone with 1:14 left on the clock. And, oh you know, the Cowboys STILL HAVE ALL 3 TIMEOUTS!! 3 straight run stuffs and the Seahawks would be punting from the end zone with about 1 minute left or so. Cowboys get the ball at midfield, only needing a FG to win. But you know what happened? On the very first play Shaun Alexander WENT RIGHT UP THE FREAKING GUT OF THE DEFENSE FOR 20 YARDS!!! Ballgame.

Mitigating fact #5: The Cowboys, energized by a 4th down goal line stand with 6:42 left in the game and leading 20-13, needed to get some room to change field positions. On the very first play, Romo dumps it off to Terry Glenn, who promptly fumbles the ball out of the end zone. The safety made it 20-15, giving the ball to Seattle at midfield, where they hit us with a big play and went ahead 21-20. At worst, even if we punted and Seattle still scored a TD, the game would have simply been tied at 20-20.

Romo fault meter: 25% for the botched hold. W/L in win or go home games: 0-0

2nd Loss – 2007 Divisional Playoff Game, New York Giants 21 – Cowboys 17

Romo stat line: 18/36, 201 yards, 1 TD 1 Int

Stat line analysis: Again, Romo didn’t burn up the stat sheet, but this was against the red-hot Giants defense, so it’s understandable.

Mitigating fact #1: Cowboy haters refuse to give the Giants credit for this win. It’s all Romo’s fault. But this was a defense that caught fire and would go on to the Super Bowl and smother one of the greatest offenses and greatest teams in NFL history, the undefeated Patriots. That’s a pretty big mitigating fact if you ask me. Fortunately, there’s a lot more in the actual game for review (including He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).

Mitigating fact #2: The Cowboys ran the ball down the Giants’ throats in the 1st half (which accounts for the reduced stat line for Romo). Marion Barber had 101 yards rushing by halftime. The Cowboys would shoot themselves in the foot with penalties throughout the game, but after a Barber TD with less than 1 minute left in the half, Dallas went up 14-7. Then, inexplicably, the defense allows the Giants to drive in for a TD WITH 53 SECONDS LEFT IN THE HALF!!! The whole game turned right there. I remember feeling that.

Mitigating fact #3: Terrell Owens had a bum ankle that game.

Mitigating fact #4: Haters point to Romo’s interception on the last play of the game as being unclutch. But it was 4th down and was the last desperate heave into the end zone. Come on man!

Mitigating fact #5: There are some other things I could include for this game, like the opening 2nd half drive that went over 8 minutes and featured a dropped TD pass and penalties that resulted in a FG, but really, for me, this game is all about Pat…Patri…Patrick Cr…PATRICK CRAYTON!!! Gah I hate saying that name. I hate to relive these memories, but it has to be done. So it’s the 4th quarter, the Boys are hanging on 17-14, and they’re facing a 2nd down and 20. Romo has to elude pressure and rolls out to his left, where he suddenly flings the ball sidearmed, because Crayton is streaking across the field, wide open and nothing but green grass in front of him. Crayton watches the ball hit his hands and then turns upfield…except he forgot to actually catch the ball first. So…much…grass…in front of him…

Then we come to the real dagger, where Crayton ripped my heart out. It’s the 2nd to last play of the game. Cowboys down 21-17. This is stuff of legends right here. This is where a legacy is born. Romo drops back and lofts a ball to the left corner of the end zone. He’s got Crayton down there! He’s got a step on the defender! No, he overthrew him! Wait, wh-what does that replay show? No way…he couldn’t have…impossible…Patrick Crayton STOPPED ON HIS ROUTE??? Yes, the ball landed with a dull thud in the end zone, right where Crayton should have been. But for reasons only known to him, he hesitated at the top of his route. Patrick…friggin…Crayton. CURSE YOU FOR ALL ETERNITY! You thwarted Romo’s destiny! We should have played the Patriots in the Super Bowl that year!

Romo’s fault meter: 0%. He played a good enough game to win it against a red-hot defense. W/L in win or go home games: 0-0

3rd Loss – 2008 Week 17, Philadelphia Eagles 44 – Cowboys 6

Romo stat line: 21/39, 183 yards, 0 TD 1 Int

Stat line analysis: No need for analysis

Mitigating fact #1: There are none. Only God knows what happened to the Cowboys’ heart in this game. Romo collapsed in the showers after the game. That’s all you have to know.

Romo fault meter: What’s 100% divided by 46 man roster? 2.17%. W/L record in win or go home games: 0-0

4th Loss – 2009 Divisional Playoff Game, Minnesota Vikings 34 – Cowboys 3

Romo’s stat line: 22/35, 198 yards, 0 TD 1 Int

Stat line analysis: How about an O-line analysis? That would be more beneficial.

Mitigating fact #1: See the Philadelphia game above. The highly vaunted Cowboys defense, which was coming off back-to-back shutouts to end the season and dominated the Eagles in the Wild Card round (Romo’s only win in these win or go home games) and was the reason why all the analysts suddenly jumped on the Cowboys bandwagon, decided they had enough games for the year. That’s the only explanation why they let old man Favre throw 4 TDs and 0 Ints. And the O-line, which was pretty stout during the year, decided they hated Romo’s guts and let the Vikings have their way with him. The most disgraceful effort I’ve ever seen from the Boys.

Romo’s fault meter: 0%. He never stood a chance in this game. W/L in win or go home games: 0-0 (I don’t give QBs credit for wins either)

5th Loss – 2011 Week 17, New York Giants 31 – Cowboys 14

Romo’s stat line: 29/37, 289 yards, 2 TD 1 Int

Stat line analysis: Romo’s best game in a loss in these win or go home games. He threw a bad pick but brought the team back to 21-14. He was under heavy pressure all night but was pretty sharp overall.

Mitigating fact #1: Romo simply didn’t have a good enough team around him in 2011. He had an outstanding year, probably his best, and they still finished 8-8. There was nothing wrong with his performance in this game. His defense, on the other hand, was all kinds of wrong. There really aren’t many mitigating facts in this game. The team just wasn’t good enough. As evident by the long Hail-Eli on 3rd down following the Boys cutting it to 21-14. Terrence “the Human Hurdle” Newman…enough said.

Romo’s fault meter: 0%. He had a good game and a great season. Team just wasn’t good enough. W/L in win or go home games: 0-0

6th Loss – 2012 Week 17, Washington Redskins 28 – Cowboys 18

Romo’s stat line: 20/37, 218 yards, 2 TD 3 Int

Stat line analysis: By far Romo’s worst game in a win or go home loss that could have been won. He looked shaky all night and gave plenty of fuel to his haters.

Mitigating fact #1: After his very costly interception, the Cowboys defense had a chance to hold the Redskins to a FG, which would still leave them a chance to go on a game winning TD drive. An offside penalty later, and the D couldn’t hold. Ballgame.

Mitigating fact #2: The D did a good job on a very gimpy RGIII, but simply got gashed by Alfred Morris for over 200 yards. To be fair, about half the starters came off the street because of injuries. I’m reaching here.

Romo’s fault meter: 75%. He had two early turnovers that were drive killers, did a good job getting them back in the game, and then had that horrible 3rd interception on what could have been the game winning drive. This one is on you, Romo. W/L in win or go home game: 0-1.

So there you have it. If, and I mean if, you must put W/L records on a QB, I would have Romo as 0-1 in win or go home games. But if you insist on that, then I would give him the Eagles playoff win, so he would be 1-1. Give me some feedback on this. Do you agree or disagree on some or all of the games?


Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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