There are plenty of reasons and enough excuses to go around. All those injuries going into the game. All those injuries during the game. Pulled muscles and broken bones spread through the ranks of this Cowboys team in 2012 like the flu. Injuries went viral.
Still, despite fielding a patched-together defense, the Cowboys had a chance to pull off another fourth quarter miracle. They had the ball and time on the clock. They were down just three points. It was time for Romo to shine. It was time for him to put the team on his back—er, his arm—and lead them to victory. It was time to shut the mouths of the haters. It was time to write a new chapter to his legacy. It was time.
And Romo threw it away.
“It just does not feel good, and I feel as though I let our team down,” Romo said. “We’ve done such a good job in those last five our 10 minutes to come back and win games. We were back in that position again, and that’s on me. And that’s a hard thing to think about.”
Just after the game, Bob Costas reminded everybody that Tony Romo has been in elimination games seven times in his polarizing career. He has lost six of them.
That is a bit unfair, I suppose. Quarterbacks don’t really win or lose games by themselves. But every great quarterback has those moments when, in crunch time, he put his team on his back and guided them to victory. Romo has done that plenty of times. He just hasn’t done it when all the chips were on the table. He hasn’t done it in “crunch time.”
Romo threw three interceptions. The first one ended what appeared to be a scoring drive. The last one ended a season.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III, on a gimpy leg, avoided interceptions, made key runs and completed just enough passes to complement the 200 yards gained on the ground by rookie RB Alfred Morris. RGIII put the finishing touches on one of the most electrifying rookie campaigns ever. Romo put the finishing touches on one of the most tantalizing, teasing, and ultimately disappointing QB careers ever.
Skip Bayless, one of my least favorite sportswriters/commentators of all-time, tweeted about that very thing. I hate to quote the guy, but give the devil his due. He called it before it happened. And he got it right:
An RG3 win tonite will launch his legacy. A Romo loss will cement his.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 30, 2012
Bayless is a shock-jock that, more often than not, formulates his “opinions” to get a rise. He is the author of the book God’s Coach, in which he impugned the character of the great Tom Landry. He is a pea shooter taking pot shots at ocean liners. But even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.
(Yeah. That’s as much credit as I can give Clueless Bayless. I am being nice here.)
Back to the story at hand.
As much as this loss is on Romo, it is also on Jason Garrett for failing to adjust to Jim Haslett’s decision to blitz everyone but the cheerleaders on every single play.
I like Romo. I like Garrett. I have defended both. But this thing feels like a perpetual 8-8 tease of a team. Year after dad-blasted year.
Speaking of teases, Bayless got that right, too…
As I wrote 2 months ago on ESPN.com, Romo is the biggest tease in sports. He’ll always be just good enough to break your heart.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 31, 2012
I really hate to admit Bayless is right twice in one article.
I also hate ending every year with bitter disappointment and beginning each new year with the empty promises and deluded optimism of team owner and—wait for it—general manager Jerry Jones. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am fed up with mediocrity masquerading as potential.
The only way I know to avoid future disappointment with this team is to lower my expectations. That, however, is hard to do, because I keep thinking this is the Dallas Cowboys.
The quarterback is a tease. The general manager is a joke. The coach is an enigma.
The whole thing is a train wreck.
Time to bury the dead in that billion-dollar steel-and-glass tombstone…and get on with living.
This is my Cowboys eulogy.