[In the ten seasons that Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback, he's engineered some great fourth-quarter heroics to bring the Cowboys to victories. 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.]
20. The Browns Come To Town And Give Cowboys A Game (Nov. 18, 2012)
Those 8-8 seasons were worse than last year's 4-12 season. At least we know the reasons why the Cowboys couldn't get it going last year. In those 8-8 years, nothing could work together. If the offense was doing well, you better believe that Rob Ryan's defense was just a joke. Those Cowboys' teams had close games with everyone that came to town, they made backups look like Pro Bowlers and third-stringers look like low-level starters. One particular memory is when Romo saved the Cowboys from the Cleveland Browns, a team that was led by Brandon Weeden.
Like most starting drives at this time, the Cowboys couldn't get anything going and were forced to punt. After the Browns weren't able to capitalize, the Cowboys came back out for three plays and another punt. Remember, these were the days that Dallas couldn't be woken up until after halftime.
Cleveland showed up to fight first after Weeden led his team down the field with the help of Josh Cribbs and Trent Richardson. On the 10th play of the drive, Weeden found Benjamin Watson in the end zone to put the Browns up 7-0. Another Dallas drive stalls at their own 34 before Brian Moorman comes out to punt yet again.
On the ensuing Browns' drive, Weeden looked sharp getting Richardson and Josh Gordon involved but was incomplete on 3rd and 9 so out trots Phil Dawson who boots through a 51-yarder to make that lead 10-0. The next drive, Dallas' first of the second quarter, is more of the same after Dez Bryant is called for holding and Juqua Parker sacks Romo for -10 yards.
Weeden's following drive would have stalled at his own 45 but he was aided by an unnecessary roughness from Orlando Scandrick and the drive is alive. The Browns' running game gets them down to the Dallas 18 but they fail to convert a first down and Dawson kicks a 37-yarder to boost the lead to 13-0.
Romo starts to get some things going after Buster Skrine is called back-to-back for illegal use of hands. However, Jabaal Sheard ends that Cowboys' drive with a sack for -7 yards and the Cowboys punt it back. The Browns run the clock out and we're at the half with Dallas down two possessions.
After the half, the Browns are driving but facing a 3rd and 9 from the Dallas 41, Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware sack Weeden to keep them from getting into field goal range. On the ensuing Cowboys' drive, they finally start mustering up some movement as Romo connects with Dez Bryant and Mile Austin on some intermediate passes.
With a little rushing aid from Felix Jones and Lance Dunbar, the Cowboys finally make it into the red zone. On 2nd and 6, the Cowboys offensive line gives up their fourth sack of the game, but Romo zigs and zags for 15 yards on the next play. The play would not stand as Jermey Parnell is called for holding.
Romo finds a way to keep the drive alive though as he finds Jason Witten for a 10-yard completion and Dan Bailey is true from 44 yards out to put the score at 13-3 Browns with 4:22 in the third quarter. Bailey unsuccessfully attempts an onside kick but thankfully the Browns do nothing on that drive that starts at the Dallas 50.
With less than three minutes to go in the third, Romo surgically dissects the Browns to wake up his offense. Romo's pass complete to Dez for 6, complete again to Dez for 30 yards, again to Dez for another 7, Kevin Ogletree adds 10 yards and draws a PI on T.J. Ward the next play. Romo finds Dwayne Harris at Cleveland 18, he connects with Witten at the 13-yard line and then Dez again at the Cleveland 2, where Felix Jones punches it in to cut the lead to three points just inside the fourth quarter.
After the Cowboys' forced a fumble on the kickoff that was wrongfully overturned, the Brown at their own seven and can't get past their own 12-yard line after Richardson fumbles but recovers it. The Browns punt it back to Dallas and Romo goes to work from his own 42.
A defensive holding by Sheard aids the Cowboys with five yards and another first down. Romo completes three more passes and draws another PI, this time on Buster Skrine at the Clevland 19 with Dwayne Harris the intended receiver. Romo is then sacked for the 5th time at the 28-yard line. On the very next play, Romo connects with Dez on a 28-yard touchdown pass and the X is going up as Sham would say! Dallas now leads 17-13 with just under seven minutes to go.
Josh Cribbs returns the kick for 28 yards but it is called back on a holding call during the return. Cleveland starts at their own 12. On 2nd and 8, Weeden is incomplete to Watson but picks up 15 yards on an unsportsmanlike penalty against Jay Ratliff. Two plays later, Weeden is sacked and stripped by Anthony Spencer and it's Cowboys' ball at the Browns' 18-yard line.
Two plays later, Romo is sacked for the seventh time and fumbles the ball and it's Browns' ball at their own 35-yard line. With 5:01 on the clock, Weeden leads a 10-play drive that falls short on 4th and 1 with only 1:47 left in regulation. The Cowboys get the ball trying to preserve the win but can't gain a yard on the ground. The Browns use all timeouts in an effort to have some clock to work with down four points. Dallas punts the ball from their own 4-yard line.
Cribbs returns the ball 21 yards and is aided by a horse-collar tackle from John Phillips and Cleveland is sitting pretty with a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 17. Weeden finds Watson for 17 and the score, Dawson gives the Browns the lead at 20-17 with 1:10 and one timeout left for the Cowboys.
Romo carves up the Cleveland defense with the help of an unsportsmanlike call on T.J. Ward and Sheldon Brown is called for a defensive pass interference. Romo scampers for another five yards and the Cowboys' spend their final timeout with :16 seconds left. The Browns' defense successfully keeps Dallas out of the end zone but Bailey ties up the game with a 32-yard field goal and we're headed to overtime.
Cowboys win the toss and get the ball first, two plays later Romo is sacked for the eighth time. He fights and claws his way with three passes completed to keep the drive alive. On 3rd and 2, he fails to connect with Dez and the Cowboys' punt from Cleveland's 41-yard line.
Weeden is unable to get anything going which is a big mistake because now Romo gets a second shot in overtime to ice this one. Romo to Austin, Lance Dunbar up the middle for seven, Romo to Austin then two scampers by Dunbar and we're at the Cleveland 20. On 2nd and 9 from the 20, Dan Bailey nails a 38-yarder and the Cowboys escape to the locker room with a victory 23-20.