[In the ten seasons that Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, he's engineered some great fourth-quarter heroics to bring the Cowboys to victory. Since 2006, no quarterback has had more fourth-quarter comeback victories, 25 to be exact, than Tony Romo. His passer rating in the final quarter of football is an astounding 102.9, five points higher than the number two guy (Aaron Rodgers). Romo also holds the mantle of most game-winning drives among active quarterbacks (29) as well as passer rating in the final two minutes (93.1).
Over the next several weeks before the team heads out to Oxnard and starts it all up again, I thought we could take some time to look back at Mr. Clutch Quarterback himself. We're going to rank all of his comeback tales from good to great, from awesome to completely amazing. Here's looking at you, Mr. Romo.]
23. Former Super Bowl Contender Gets Throttled At Home (Oct. 29, 2006)
Just a week prior, the Cowboys replaced Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo, an undrafted free agent out of a small school named Eastern Illinois. A kid that stuck on the roster if only for the luck that Quincy Carter couldn't control his inner demons and was cut. Bledsoe, a Bill Parcells' guy in every definition of the word, showed that he just didn't have it anymore and a change was needed. Romo would show a little bit of everything after going in for Bledsoe but the Cowboys fell to the Giants 36-22. Still, the Cowboys were going with the younger gun for the next game.
Tony Romo's first career start came on a road trip to face a former Super Bowl-contending Carolina Panthers' team, led by quarterback Jake Delhomme.
The first quarter of the game started as a sloppy mess as both offenses were sluggish and couldn't connect with receivers downfield. When the Cowboys finally drove down into Panther's territory with under seven minutes in the first, Mike Vanderjagt missed a 48-yard attempt and gave the ball back to Carolina on their own 38. It seemed to be just the spark the Panthers needed as they drove straight down the field with help on a defensive pass interference committed on Keyshawn Johnson. Two plays later, DeShaun Foster punches it in from the one and the Panthers go up seven after the PAT is good.
On the ensuing Cowboys' drive after a 30-yard kickoff return, Romo finds Jason Witten for 12-yards but the play is called back on an Andre Gurode holding penalty and the ball is placed at the Dallas 24, no play. Romo looking for Terrell Owens on 3rd and 13 throws an interception and the Panthers hand off an end-around to Steve Smith who takes it 24-yards for the score to give Carolina a 14-0 lead.
Tyson Thompson fields the kick for the Cowboys and makes another marvelous return for 37 yards and then Dallas is aided by an unnecessary roughness call for another 15-yards, setting them up at the Carolina 47. Romo leads and eight-play drive with help from Julius Jones between the tackles. On 2nd and 3 from the Carolina 3-yard line, Romo finds Witten in the end zone to finally get on the boards with 12:16 left in the half.
Here's where it all goes downhill for those pesky Panthers as Richard Marshall fumbles the kickoff. Though he recovers his own fumble, their drive begins at their own 11 and though they lead a nine play drive, it ultimately ends with a punt.
Romo gets the ball back with six minutes and some change left in the half and down seven points, he leads the Cowboys from their own 12 all the way down the Carolina 20 with :30 seconds left. This time, Vanderjagt's 38-yarder is true and the Cowboys cut the lead to four points as the half is almost over. Somehow, someway, Carolina gets the ball to the Cowboys' 47 with :04 seconds left. Somebody had to have spiked John Fox's drink because he sends John Kasay out to attempt a 65-yarder that obviously fails and we're at halftime.
The third quarter becomes and absolute snoozefest as neither team can do anything in two possessions each. It's starting to feel as if Carolina may hold onto that four-point lead and win as the Cowboys have the ball at the start of the fourth quarter. Then, all of a sudden, the Cowboys show some life as Romo hits Witten deep for 26-yards and then again three plays later for another 16. Gurode then commits his second penalty, a false start, but Vanderjagt puts three more on the board cutting Carolina's lead to 1 point.
Poor Carolina can't catch a break as Sam Hurd forces a fumble on the kickoff and recovers it at the Carolina 14-yard line. What happens next is Julius Jones right up the middle for 14 and the score. Romo connects with Owens on a two-point try giving the Cowboys' the 21-14 lead.
The Panthers' get the ball back but can't get past their own 26. The Cowboys' drive begins well with a 28-yard pass from Romo to Owens, but Tony is sacked at the 50-yard line and Matt McBriar punts it back to Carolina. Two plays later, Delhomme throws an interception to Roy Williams at their own 32. Three handoffs to Jones and two plays later, Barber off the left guard for three yards and a touchdown. Cowboys up 28-14.
As if it couldn't get worse for the Panther's, it does on 2nd and 8 when Delhomme is sacked by Greg Ellis and fumbles with Jay Ratliff recovering. Romo hands the ball off to Barber as he punishes the Panthers for 14-yards and another rushing touchdown. Dallas leads 35-14 and Delhomme tries to gather his team but it's too late and he's consequently sacked again effectively ending this one.
It was clear that Romo was the new leader of this team as he showed that he would do anything to get his team in a position to score points. He may have only thrown one touchdown pass but what he did in the middle of drives and his use of the Barbarian was simply perfect. They scored 25 unanswered points after Romo brought them back to life with the help of Jason Witten and Terrell Owens. That's leadership.