[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).
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.]
1.) The Day Tony Romo Shed All Presumptive Labels (Sept. 18, 2011)
The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys rivalry has seen many great moments and this day has to be up there as one of the best. Jim Harbaugh was leading his 1-0 49ers to host the 0-1 Cowboys after a game, in which, by all means, Tony Romo lost in week one against the New York Jets. This game has a special moment in my heart and I sure hope the masses agree that this is perhaps one of Tony Romo's finest moments as the quarterback for America's Team.
The Cowboys start on offense and look ready for this battle after taking the loss at home the week before. On 3rd and 9, Romo connects with Jason Witten for 25 yards and the first down. Three plays later, he finds Tashard Choice on a screen that goes 18 yards. Two plays after that, he and Witten hook up again for 22 yards to the SF 12, he then is able to find John Phillips for another eight yards to the SF 3. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Romo fails to connect with Mile Austin. Out trots Dan Bailey for the 21-yard chip shot but it fails as a great drive is wasted. Neither team makes a thing on their next possession and the 49ers have the ball as we head into the second quarter having converted a 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 47.
The second quarter begins with Anthony Spencer sacking Alex Smith for -9 yards but Frank Gore gains that right back on the very next play. On 2nd and 9, from the DAL 26, Bradie James picks up a pass interference call and the 49ers are knocking on the door. Two plays later, Gore runs up the middle for the 1-yard touchdown run and 49ers draw first blood, 7-0.
On the Cowboys first drive of the second quarter, the 49ers have ramped up their blitzing. On 3rd and 8, Romo is rocked by Carlos Rodgers on a blitz but manages to get the ball out incomplete to Miles Austin. Kyle Kosier is seen peeling Romo off the field on a play that we later found cracked Romo's ribs. He's in visual discomfort as he is sucking wind headed to the sideline.
After a nice return for Ted Ginn Jr., the 49ers are starting in Cowboys territory. Behind a couple of really nice throws, Smith has his team driving to score. On 3rd and 6 from the DAL 12, Smith is complete to Kyle Williams to make this a 14-0 contest in favor of the home team. Tony Romo comes back out after the kickoff but something doesn't seem right as his passes are sailing over heads. He's looking for Witten again on a 2nd and 5 but it hits Witten's helmet and Romo is seeing a ton of pressure. Dallas punts back the ball but is able to get to Alex Smith, thanks to Jason Hatcher, as the 'Boys will get one more shot before halftime.
On 1st down, Romo connects with Miles Austin for a 12-yard slant but each pass shows grimace on the quarterback's face and it takes a lot out of him. Three plays later on 3rd and 4, Austin is there again on a short pass to the left that goes for 53 yards and the score. The Cowboys are on the boards, trailing 14-7, Alex Smith comes back out but it's only to close out the half. The 49ers get the ball to start the second half bu the defense holds as Hatcher gets Smith again on 3rd down.
As the Cowboys get their first second-half possession, Romo is visibly upset as we see Jon Kitna is warming up. Romo is told by the trainers that he's got a cracked rib and possible punctured lung and he will not be continuing this contest. Romo lets his emotions get to him kicks a helmet nearby as he walks off with the trainers for another look at his mid-section. This first drive has some juice but runs out quickly as Kitna is intercepted on 1st and 10 from the SF 28.
Two plays later, Alan Ball is able to get the ball back for the Cowboys as he intercepts Smith's pass and runs it to the SF 18. DeMarco Murray makes his debut with an 8-yard run and Kitna connects with Austin on 3rd and 7 for eight more. Two plays later, Kitna and Austin hook up again for the 5-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14 all. Dallas gets to Smith again with a sack by DeMarcus Ware and the defense holds the 49ers in check once again.
Facing 3rd and 10 from their own 9, Kitna find Jason Witten for 20 yards and a new set of downs. As the 3rd quarter is winding down, Kitna makes his second mistake and is intercepted on a 3rd and 5 looking for Martellus Bennett. Alex Smith wastes no time as he connects with Delanie Walker on the very next play for the 29-yard touchdown and San Fran takes a 21-14 lead. Romo is seen putting his helmet back on as he walks over to Kitna and gives him a fist bump. A trainer tries to urge him not to go on the field but he waves him off to show his warrior mentality to keep fighting through whatever ails him.
The 49ers start the fourth quarter by putting up three more points with a David Akers' 55-yard field goal. On 1st down for Dallas, Romo is sacked by Ray McDonald and the whole crowd goes "oooooooh" as we now know that Romo's rib(s) is cracked but don't find out about that punctured lung until after the game. Tony gets back up and delivers a 17-yard out to Kevin Ogletree. After Felix Jones picks up four rushing yards, Romo is back at it, this time, to Austin for 25 more yards. He follows that up with two completions to Witten to get close to the red zone. On 1st and 10 from the SF 25, Romo finds Austin again as he stretches every inch to score the touchdown and come within three points. It's 24-21 49ers with seven minutes left in the game.
With a little more help from Ware as he sacks Alex Smith on 2nd down, the 49ers can't recover and punt it back to the Cowboys with 4:03 left to play. Romo hooks up with Jesse Holley on two straight plays for 19 yards combined. Murray converts a 2nd and 2 with another eight yards on the ground. Romo throws three straight completions, one to Murray for four yards and two seven-yard passes to Miles Austin. Dallas takes their second timeout of the half with 49 seconds left. Facing a 3rd and 2, Austin (slowed by a hamstring strain) is hit by Justin Smith and fumbles but Doug Free bails him out. Cowboys take their final timeout and Dan Bailey comes out with all the pressure after missing from 21 earlier. With four seconds left, Bailey is true from 48 yards and the Cowboys send this one to overtime.
49ers win the toss but on 2nd and 3, Jay Ratliff joins the sack club and gets to Alex Smith for the sixth Cowboys sack of the game (remember those days?). On 3rd and 11, Smith finds Ted Ginn for what seems like the first but is later overturned by the official. 49ers punt the ball back to the Cowboys as we see Tony Romo talking to Holley on the sideline. Holley was covering for a seemingly depleted roster as Austin was hamstrung and Dez Bryant was inactive this game. So, in essence, Romo is talking to WR option five or six realistically speaking and asking him to come through for him.
On 1st and 10 from the Dallas 22, Holley answered Romo's call as he finds a break in the 49ers' coverage to take this ball 77 yards, just one yard shy of the end zone. Dan Bailey steps out onto the field to kick the 19-yard field goal and wrap up this comeback for Tony Romo.
It was a game that was just so satisfying given the circumstances. Tony Romo, with cracked ribs, a punctured lung, shortness of breath, and a depleted receiving roster, willed himself to win this game despite all obstacles in his way. He didn't sit on the sideline and accept the fate that they were about to dip into a 0-2 hole to start the year. Instead, Romo said "No offense, Kitna. This is MY team." He came to their rescue and on that day he earned respect from people that refused to show him what he deserved.
This is what has made Tony Romo such a hero to so many. This was a try-out arm from the 2003 combine, an undrafted free agent who was almost cut, if not, for the lack of depth after they dropped Quincy Carter. A man who took far less praise and far more criticism than any undrafted free agent from a small school deserved and shattered his body for the victories. So any Romo-detractors out there that are still lamenting the same old tired argument, you can quite frankly zip your lips. Romo doesn't owe this team a thing as he's never been the problem and these 25 comebacks show you that he's what Ric Flair simply calls; "The Man."