Don't count Tony Romo, Cowboys out of postseason just yet
The Dallas Cowboys with Tony Romo as their starting quarterback this season: 3-0.
The Dallas Cowboys with other quarterbacks starting this season: 0-7.
I know wins and losses are not a quarterback stat, but the importance of the position has been very evident in Dallas this year. A rusty Romo was able to return and lead Dallas to a win against a dangerous Miami team in the rain in a game that seems almost inevitable any other quarterback they have tried this season would have lost.
This Dallas team with Romo under center is good enough to make the playoffs, but without him they went winless, and may have lost enough to make the task of playing postseason football too great to achieve now he is back.
The good news for the Cowboys, however, is that their NFC East rivals can’t get out of their own way, and despite winning just three games all season, the Cowboys are only two games out of first place in the division. Dallas is also 2-2 within the division, the same or better record as any of the other sides. As hard as it might be to believe, this team is far from done in the playoff race, and now has a viable player throwing passes for them.
We saw the difference that Romo brings to the Cowboys almost immediately yesterday. Just five minutes into the game, in their own end zone, Romo evaded unblocked pressure, scrambled to his left and threw a left-handed dump-off pass to running back Darren McFadden, who gained decent yardage on a play that you can only imagine would have resulted in Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden eating turf, had either one been under center.
For the day, Romo was far from perfect. He connected with Dez Bryant for a big score, putting the combination above Aikman to Irvin for the all-time lead in franchise history in touchdowns, but he also threw a poor interception on a pass intended for Bryant and showed some rust.
Romo completed 10 of 16 passes when kept clean for a 127.9 passer rating, but that dropped to just 51.4 on plays in which he was pressured, despite that earlier piece of improvisation. He didn’t even avoid the costly mistakes that both Weeden and Cassel have been prone to in his absence, throwing two interceptions in the game, one of which was behind the line of scrimmage.
But what Tony Romo brought to Dallas with his return was hope, and some self-belief to a franchise certainly had been banking on winning at least one game during his stretch on the sideline. The fact that they were blanked over that stretch has put the team in a hole, but it’s not one so deep that Romo can’t haul them out of it, and he started off on the right path in this game.