I’ll never forget the moment I became a Dallas Cowboys fan. I was in third grade (2003-2004) as I was just starting to get into football. As a young kid, I was trying to find a team to get behind to root for. This process consisted of buying multiple packs of trading cards and I had every jersey you could think of (even a Donovan McNabb Eagles jersey).
Living in upstate New York, I had the opportunity to attend a Buffalo Bills training camp session at St. John Fisher college in 2004. After practice, Drew Bledsoe stayed after to sign autographs while his kids played catch on the field. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet Bledsoe as he signed my football card. Bledsoe became my favorite player for the time being as I was star struck. In 2005 when Drew Bledsoe signed with the Dallas Cowboys, my father’s favorite team, I became hooked which started my fandom for America’s Team.
After a 9-7 season in 2005, my hopes were high for the 2006 season. However, I had no idea half way through the 2006 season an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois, who didn’t pick up a football until the age of 16 was going to become my hero.
After a decade of riding the “Romo-Coaster,” the news broke the Cowboys would make Tony Romo a post-June 1st cut. For the first time in 14 years, Tony Romo will not have a star on his helmet. With the thought of Tony Romo never playing a down in the NFL again, the discussion of his legacy became a hot topic. Questions all over the media and social media rose such as:
- How will Tony Romo be remembered?
- Is Tony Romo the greatest quarterback in Dallas Cowboys history?
- Is Tony Romo a Hall of Famer?
I wanted to take a look back at Tony Romo’s career season by season, highlighting his finest moments and his low points as well. I felt this was the best way to help those with questions about Romo’s legacy come to a conclusion. I’ve seen many state Tony Romo has only two playoff wins in his 14-year career. Keep in mind, while Tony Romo was only a starter for 10 seasons as he was an undrafted free agent in 2003 signing with the Cowboys for 10,000 dollars less than the Broncos offered him.
Romo didn’t take an NFL snap until 2006. He only played all 16 games in 5 seasons (2007 divisional round loss, 2009 divisional round loss, 2011 & 2012 Week 17 loss for the NFC East title, 2014 divisional round loss). If you want to discredit Tony Romo due to his injury history that’s warranted, do not question his toughness as you’ll learn why later in this article. If you want to blame Tony Romo for only having two playoff wins in his career, keep in mind it takes a team to win a playoff game and a championship.
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In the 2014 divisional round loss against the Packers, Romo posted a 143.6 quarterback rating. Those who have posted a rating that high were 60-0. Romo was not the problem for that playoff loss, as he was never the Cowboys problem throughout his career. The front office did an awful job of surrounding Tony Romo with talent throughout his career. Romo stated the 2016 team was the best roster he has ever been apart of. He spent his career making wide receivers a lot of money like Terrell Owens (38 touchdowns), Miles Austin (27 touchdowns) and Dez Bryant (50 touchdowns). In a recent interview, Dez Bryant stated “Romo started this 88, I owe everything to him.”
Throughout his career, Tony Romo only had two 1,000 yard rushers (2014, 2013), to put that in perspective Troy Aikman had a 1,000 yard rusher every single year he played except his rookie year. During Romo’s career the Cowboys had historically bad defenses. After having a top 15 defense in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Cowboys would sink to the bottom 20 each of the following years. In 2013, The Cowboys gave up 6,645 yards to opposing offenses, the third most in NFL history. The Cowboys offensive line wasn’t always the great wall of Dallas as we know it today.
For the majority of his career, the Cowboys had the worst offensive line in all of football, as they were in the top 10 in sacks allowed during every year Romo was a starter except for two seasons. Coaching was an issue during Romo’s time with the Cowboys. Dallas was undisciplined, they finished in the top-5 for the most penalties every season Romo was a starter except for 2 seasons as well. Despite a lack of talent around him, Tony Romo still put up hall of fame numbers.
Romo has the 4th best completion percentage
4th best yard per pass attempt, 5th best TD-INT ratio
3rd best passer rating
11th best winning percentage
93.0 postseason passer rating(Tom Brady has an 89.0)
From 2006-2014 Romo led all NFL QB’s in 4th quarter comebacks(23) and game-winning drives(27)
Most career passing touchdowns in franchise history
Most career passing yards in franchise history
Longest streak of consecutive games with 60+ completion %
If none of those stats have changed your mind about Tony Romo, that’s okay because Tony Romo’s legacy is much more than any number could define. As you’ll see below, what makes Tony Romo special is through his best and worst times he always displayed heart, toughness, class and leadership. Romo was the quarterback the Cowboys needed after they were searching for their answer for 6 seasons after Troy Aikman retired. However, Tony Romo was not the quarterback Cowboys fans deserved as he was under-appreciated throughout his entire career.
October 23rd, 2006 seemed to be the longest game in Cowboys franchise history. The Giants were stomping the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, in a battle for first place in the NFC East. After a terrible first half filled with sacks and an awful interception thrown by Drew Bledsoe in the red zone, Bill Parcells gave the Cowboys a look at their starter for the next decade. Tony Romo entered the game and truth be told I was fuming. At the time I didn’t understand why Drew Bledsoe was being benched. My anger turned into hatred when Tony Romo’s first throw was intercepted off a deflection. However, Romo showed glimpses of what he would bring to the table as a Cowboys starter, a never say die attitude with the ability to turn nothing into something.
The Giants ended up winning the game 36-22 but the season was saved by Parcells that night. On a short week, the Cowboys turned to Romo to be their starter on Sunday night football, on the road against the Carolina Panthers. After trailing 14-0, Romo fired his first touchdown pass as a starter on a back shoulder fade to Jason Witten who made a sensational catch. Fitting his first career touchdown pass as a starter was a back shoulder fade, the same exact pass he would perfect years later to Dez Bryant. The Cowboys ended up scoring 35 unanswered points, 25 of those coming in the 4th quarter.
Romo would lead the Cowboys to win six of the final nine games of the 2006 season. One of those wins came against the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Indianapolis Colts who were undefeated at the time. In only his 4th start, Romo went head to head with Peyton Manning. Down 14-7 midway through the 4th quarter, Romo led an 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 14, with 4 minutes to play. The Cowboys would get the ball back quickly, allowing Romo to lead a game-winning drive to put the Cowboys up 21-14 to secure the victory. Next up was Romo’s first appearance on Thanksgiving against the Buccaneers. Romo was flawless going 22 for 29, with 306 yards and five touchdowns.
The following week was against the New York Giants in a must-win game for the Cowboys playoff hopes. With the game tied at 20 with one minute left, the Cowboys were on their own 30 yard line. Now remember, at this point of the season the Cowboys had their own carousel for kickers due to Mike Vanderjagt being released. Kicker, Martin Gramatica was newly signed, therefore the pressure to get into good field position was critical for the Cowboys. On the first play, Romo rolled to his left, threw across his body and fired an absolute beauty to Jason Witten for 42 yards. The Cowboys would kick a game-winning field goal, to secure their wild card playoff spot. Suddenly the buzz in Dallas was larger than life.
The Cowboys headed to Seattle, to play the defending NFC champions in the Wild Card round. This game would become the nail in the coffin for Romo’s career to most people who are short minded. With the Cowboys up 20-13 in the 4th quarter with 6:00 minutes left to play, Demarcus Ware stuffed Shaun Alexander to force a turnover on downs on 4th and goal. The following play was a screen to Terry Glenn, who had running room but slipped, the ball was jarred loose and it became a safety to make it a 20-15 game with Seattle getting the ball back.
The Cowboys let up a blown coverage touchdown over the middle, Seattle went up 21-20 with 4 minutes left to go after a failed two-point conversion. Romo would complete his next two passes, allowing a draw play to follow. The success of the draw play was due to the safety Ken Hamlin playing twenty yards deep in fear of another throw. Julius Jones brought the ball near the Cowboys 10 yard line. After two straight runs to milk the clock, Romo threw a pass to Jason Witten on 3rd and 7 that went about 6 ¾ yards.
The officials on the field ruled it a 1st and goal for the Cowboys but after review, they changed the call to it being short of a first down. Now 4th and Goal, The Cowboys decided to attempt a field goal to win the game. However, this led to the botched snap by Romo. The infamous words “Romo can’t get the spot down!” still rings heavily. Romo ended up losing his first ever playoff game, with all the blame placed on him. All eyes were on Tony Romo to see how he’d respond the following season. Tony Romos first full season as a starter was one of the best seasons in franchise history. Leading his team to a 13-3 record by passing for 4,211 yards and 36 touchdowns.
One of the most memorable moments of Romo’s career came from the 2007 season. The Cowboys were 3-0 at home against an 0-3 Rams team, tied at 7, with 55 seconds left to play in 1st half. The setting was 3rd and 3 at the 50 yard line, the center snapped the ball 30 yards over Romo’s head. Romo traced the loose ball down and instead of falling on top of it, he picked it up, pumped fake a defender out of his shoes and picked up the 1st down. This lead to 28 unanswered points in a Cowboys blowout win. Romo sparked the Cowboys that day which foreshadowed his entire career for Dallas.
The following week, Romo would do something even more special. Tony Romo on Monday Night Football, turned the ball over 6 times(5 INT, 1 fumble) on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Obviously, the turnovers weren’t what made his performance special, it’s how he responded to those turnovers. In the 4th quarter, down 8 within the two-minute warning, the Cowboys scored 9 points in 20 seconds to win the game to continue their undefeated season. The Cowboys would lose to the Patriots the following week to end their undefeated season. After the loss to the Patriots, Romo led the Cowboys to 7 straight wins. The Cowboys would end up finishing the season 13-3 in Romo’s first full year as a starter (sound familiar Dak Prescott fans?).
Poised for a Super Bowl appearance, The Cowboys played the Giants for the third time in one season in the 2007 Divisional Round. The Cowboys were leading 17-14 in the 3rd quarter with 1:11 left to play, Romo escaped pressure, rolled to his left and threw a dart to Patrick Crayton on 3rd and 14 for a first down at the very least, however, he dropped it. Crayton would have easily scored a touchdown on the play. It’s the one play no Cowboy fan ever talks about but it would have changed the course of the game. The Giants returned the Cowboys punt on 4th and 14 to their own 38 yard line, setting up wonderful field position.
The Giants would score their go-ahead touchdown on that drive 6 plays later, which would end up being the deciding touchdown. Romo threw his only interception of the game on a desperation throw on 4th and 11 with 9 seconds left to play. Romo throwing an interception would stick on top of the botched fumble in Seattle just one year prior.
National media and fans across the world blamed Romo for the Cowboys playoff losses in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, Romo started off hot to silence the critics once again. The Cowboys started the season 4-1, with two impressive wins over the Eagles on Monday Night football and a 27-16 win over the Packers. With what looked to be a promising season, disaster struck in Arizona with an overtime loss to the Cardinals where Tony Romo broke a finger on his throwing hand. The first injury of Romo’s career occurred and it effectively ended the Cowboys season.
After dropping two of the next three games with Brooks Bollinger and Brad Johnson leading the way, Romo returned after their bye week against the Redskins on Sunday Night Football. Romo would lead the Cowboys to 4 wins in the next 5 games as the Cowboys desperately needed him. To put it in perspective, with Romo as the starter the Cowboys were 8-3 before week 16. However, due to the two losses while Romo was out, Dallas was fighting for their playoff life with an 8-5 record. In week 16, Romo had one of his best performances against the Ravens at the last game ever in Texas Stadium.
Romo threw a touchdown to Terrell Owens with under 4 minutes left to play to cut the Ravens lead to 19-17. On the following play, Willis McGahee ran for a 77-yard touchdown to increase the Ravens lead to 26-17. Romo responded with three huge throws on 3rd and 10, 2nd and 22 and a touchdown pass to Jason Witten on 2nd and 10. With 1:36 left to play the Cowboys trailed 26-24. After the kickoff return, Le’Ron McClain scored an 82 yard touchdown to ice the game for the Ravens.
After the Cowboys defense let them down, they were now forced to win their Week 17 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. With a playoff spot on the line, the Cowboys lost 44-6, in one of the worst performances of Tony Romo’s career he threw 3 interceptions and was just 21-39 for 189 yards. Romo was labeled as a choker, someone who could not win the big game despite the fact he was only a starter for two full seasons.
Entering the 2009 season, not much was expected since the departure of Terrell Owens. Romo connected with Owens for 34 touchdowns in only 2 ½ seasons. The beginning of 2009 had the Cowboys searching for their identity as they started with a 2-2 record. In week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys found out exactly who they were as a new star was born. With 2:27 left to play in the 4th quarter, Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass to a receiver named Miles Austin to put the Cowboys up 20-13.
The Chiefs would respond with a touchdown of their own to take the game to overtime tied at 20. Tony Romo would end the game in overtime with a comeback route to Miles Austin that went 60 yards to win the game 26-20. Tony Romo threw for 351 yards, 250 of them going to the Cowboys new number 1 wide receiver Miles Austin. The Cowboys would go on to win 5 of their next 6 games putting them at an 8-3 overall record. However, The Cowboys dropped their following two games. At 8-5, the Cowboys playoff hopes looked dimmed, especially if they lost their next matchup to the undefeated New Orleans Saints, who eventually went on to win the Super Bowl that same season.
On Thursday Night Football in New Orleans, the Cowboys’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread. The 13-0 Saints were hit in the mouth by Tony Romo after an opening drive touchdown pass to Miles Austin for 49 yards. With 8:00 minutes left in the 4th quarter, The Saints scored to cut the Cowboys lead to 24-17. Tony Romo converted multiple third downs to wind the clock down to 2:19, he set up Nick Folk perfectly to hit a chip shot field goal to make it a two-possession game, however, Folk missed the kick. The Cowboys defense would hold the Saints from scoring thanks to Demarcus Ware.
The Cowboys did the impossible in what is one of Tony Romo’s best performances of his career. Romo went 24 for 33 with 312 yards and a touchdown. After a huge upset road win, the Cowboys beat their divisional rival Washington to set themselves up for a Week 17 matchup against the Eagles, with the NFC East title on the line. Tony Romo threw for 311 yards going 24 for 34 and two touchdowns in a 24-0 win. For the second time out of three full seasons as a starter, Romo led his team to an NFC East Division Title. Romo would face the Eagles in the wild card round, the same team who sent the Cowboys home the previous season.
One year removed from his worst performance as a pro, Romo would rebound by throwing for 244 yards on 23 of 35 for two touchdowns in a 34-14 playoff victory, the first of his young career. In the divisional round, the Cowboys defense was torched by Brett Favre who threw for 4 touchdowns, Sidney Rice caught three of them in a Vikings 34-3 win ending the Cowboys season.
After coming off his first playoff win as a pro, 2010 was filled with high expectations, especially because AT&T stadium was the host of the Super Bowl. The Cowboys also drafted Dez Bryant to give Tony Romo a number 1 wide receiver. Week 1 on Sunday Night Football against the Redskins would foreshadow the story for Tony Romo’s 2010 season. Although Romo threw for 281 yards and a touchdown, the Cowboys trailed 7 to 13 with 4 seconds left to play in the 4th quarter. Romo on the 15 yard line dropped back, scrambled and hit Roy E Williams on what looked to be a walk-off touchdown.
However, there was a flag on the play. Right tackle Alex Barron who replaced an injured Marc Columbo was called for a clear holding to end the game. This put the Cowboys in a 0-1 hole to start the season, the first season opener loss for Romo. The Cowboys would not be able to dig out of the 0-1 hole as they lost three of their next four games. With a 1-4 record, Dallas played the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. In the second quarter after a promising opening drive capped off by a touchdown pass, Tony Romo was hit hard by Michael Boley. On the play, Romo completed a pass to Miles Austin but in the process he fractured his left clavicle. When the trainers went on the field, the first question Romo asked is “did he catch it” showing his toughness, his desire to win. After campaigning to get back in the game, Romo went into the locker room to get X-Rays and the results ended his 2010 season.
The 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons for Tony Romo will be the years people remember for three straight 8-8 seasons without a playoff berth. However, the narrative of 2011-2013 should be about how awful these Cowboy teams were. Romo made a depleted roster with no depth a playoff contender each season as they were never eliminated from playoff contention until the regular season was over with. The years 2011-2013 brought us some of the finest Tony Romo moments in which he displayed leadership, fight, toughness and resiliency. In my opinion, Tony Romo was in his prime, it’s a shame the Cowboys front office surrounded him with 4-12 talent.
In 2011, The Cowboys lost a heartbreaking Sunday Night Football season opener against the New York Jets. Romo threw an interception on the final drive to end the game. Facing a 0-2 start much like 2010, the Cowboys traveled to San Francisco to take on the up and coming 49ers. This game would be the defining moment of Tony Romo’s career. With 11 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, Romo got hit hard and fractured his ribs while puncturing his lung. Down 14-0 with the season on the line, Tony Romo refused to come out of the game. Romo threw a touchdown pass to Miles Austin before the half to make it 14-7 deficit.
After halftime, doctors were still checking on Tony Romo, Jon Kitna started the 3rd quarter and threw an interception and touchdown pass of his own to tie the game at 14. On the following possession, Jon Kitna threw another interception. The 49ers scored twice to extend their lead to 24-14. At this point, the Cowboys looked to be doomed for another 0-2 start with the future of their starting quarterback in question as the press box announced Tony Romo would be out of the game with cracked ribs.
Immediately after the 49ers scored, Romo put his helmet on the following possession and went in. Romo led a 9 play touchdown drive to Miles Austin to cut the lead to 24-21. Down 3 with two minutes left to play, Romo moved the Cowboys into field goal position for rookie Dan Bailey. Bailey hit a field goal to send the game to overtime. In overtime, after the 49ers went 3 and out, Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley on a 77-yard strike to put the Cowboys on the 2 yard line. Dan Bailey kicked a game-winning field goal thanks to the grit of Tony Romo.
Immediately after the game, Tony Romo was not able to step up or down from the podium at his press conference. If you go back and watch the press conference, Dallas Cowboys journalist Nick Eatman assisted Romo, the image is powerful and will give you chills. This is just one of many examples where Romo put his body on the line to help the Cowboys win an important football game. Only one week removed from throwing an interception to end the game against the New York Jets, Romo responded with his most impressive performance of his career. Romo’s ability to learn from his past mistakes and to respond to a bad play or game was the reason why he was such an incredible leader for the Cowboys. The 49ers game made a lot of doubters believers as the legend of Tony Romo grew.
Romo would play with a protective vest for the next 6 weeks and needed pain killing injections throughout the duration of the season. The Cowboys would go into Week 16 against the Eagles with an 8-6 record, 5 of those losses were by 6 points or less. Jason Garrett decided to play Tony Romo in the meaningless game and it cost them their season. Romo went to throw a pass and hit his throwing hand on a Eagles defensive end who was applying pressure. Romo’s hand was swelling and only a few plays later the Cowboys lost their starting running back Felix Jones.
Heading into the Week 17 win or go home game for the NFC East Division title, Romo’s hand was the size of beach ball and 34-year-old Sammy Morris was slated to get most of the carries due to Felix Jones injury. The Giants started off fast with a huge 74 yard touchdown to Victor Cruz who burned Terrance Newman. New York would dominate the 1st half leading 21-0 at halftime. To start the second half, Romo’s hand became numb but he continued to fight throwing two touchdown passes to Laurent Robinson to give the Cowboys a chance only trailing 21-14.
The game would come down to a 3rd and 7 with 9:16 left to play. The Giants had the ball, in danger of going 3-and-out after the Cowboys scored. A stop here would swing the momentum to the Cowboys, however, Eli Manning escaped pressure and threw a prayer to Victor Cruz 40 yards down the field who caught it over two defenders. The Giants were able to wind the clock down to five minutes, kicking a field goal to make it a 24-14 game. On the next possession, the Cowboys went 3 and out after a drop by Felix Jones on third down. The Giants would score a touchdown after converting a third down to Victor Cruz for 30 yards and then Manning threw another pass to Cruz for a touchdown to ice the game at 34-14. The Giants would go on to win the Super Bowl and the Cowboys season ended in disappointment.
Lost in the shuffle was Romo going 29 for 37 with 289 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception with a hand injury that would sideline any other quarterback. Romo was not to blame for their loss or for missing the playoffs.Romo had one of his best seasons throwing for a total of 4,184 yards, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 102.5 passer rating.
The 2012 season opened up with a Wednesday Night Football matchup against the defending Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. I was lucky enough to skip the first day of my senior year of high school to drive 6 ½ hours with my Dad to watch the Cowboys shock the world on opening night. Just like Romo did throughout his entire career, he avenged his Week 17 loss to the Giants the previous season.
Despite losing his starting center on the opening drive, Romo completed 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception against a defense that was coming off a historic performance against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. In the 4th quarter, with the Cowboys leading 17-10 on 1st and 30, Romo fired a touchdown pass to Miles Austin to put the game away. A 24-17 win over the defending Super Bowl Champions in their own house was impressive but the Cowboys did not live up to the hype the following weeks as they were just 5-6 after a Thanksgiving loss to the Redskins.
With five weeks left to go, the Cowboys could not afford another loss. Romo rattled off three straight wins, starting with a record-breaking night. Romo went 10-10 in the second half with 169 yards and 3 touchdowns. Romo’s pass to Dez Bryant in the third quarter passed Troy Aikman on the franchise list for most touchdowns with 166. Romo stated after the game “The record gets put aside, we are fighting for our playoff lives.”
Sadly the following week a life was lost, Jerry Brown a practice squad linebacker was involved in a car accident with starting defensive tackle Josh Brent. The news broke on Saturday, one day before their road trip to Cincinnati, winners of four straight games fighting for their playoff spot as well. Down by a score of 19-10 with their season on the line in the 4th quarter, Tony Romo fired a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant for 27 yards on third down. After a defensive stop, Romo led the Cowboys down the field and Dan Bailey kicked a game-winning field goal to extend the Cowboys season in an emotional win.
When Pittsburgh came to town they were also fighting for a playoff spot. Despite having his number 1 wide receiver with a broken finger, Romo was once again clutch. In an overtime 27-24 win, Romo threw for 341 yards, 2 touchdowns on 30 completions. As good as his performance was, he would top it the following week against the New Orleans Saints. Romo threw for 416 yards and 4 touchdowns in a loss. However, thanks to three straight wins the Cowboys would go into Week 17 with another win or go home game for the NFC East title.
The Cowboys went to Fedex field to play one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the Washington Redskins. RG3 was having a tremendous rookie season. RG3 came into Week 17 with an injured leg, his ability as a quarterback was limited but Dallas still could not get pressure on him. Alfred Morris would run for 200 yards with 3 touchdowns. The Cowboys defense had no answer, the weight of their season was on Romo’s shoulders. On back to back drives in the 1st quarter, Romo threw interceptions but at halftime the score was tied at 7. In the 4th quarter the Cowboys trailed 21-10. At this time the Cowboys were left with their receivers at Dwayne Harris and Kevin Ogletree. Dez Bryant was knocked out of the game with back spasms and Miles Austin was on the sideline with a hamstring injury.
Despite the injuries, Romo threw a touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree and then converted a two pointer to Dwayne Harris. After the Cowboys forced a punt, Romo threw his worst pass as a Cowboy. Down 3, Romo dropped back to throw a screen pass to Demarco Murray, the linebacker followed Murray the whole way and intercepted the ball. With three minutes left the Cowboys defense needed to bail Romo out, and the defense failed him like so many times over the course of his career. On third down RG3 threw an incomplete pass which would have forced a field goal but the Cowboys were called for illegal use of the hands. The Redskins scored on third and goal to win the game 28-18.
Romo’s costly interception would wind up being the worst mistake of his career in my opinion. However, the only reason the Cowboys were in a position to win a division title was due to the play of Tony Romo throughout the 2012 season. Number 9 racked up 4,903 yards, 28 touchdowns and completed 65.6 of his passes. After looking at Romo’s numbers one could say he “carried the Cowboys on his back”. Romo felt the aftermath of the 2012 season when he underwent his first back surgery to remove a cyst, missing the offseason program leading up to 2013.
In 2013, Romo would prove he is an elite quarterback without question. In Week 5 the 2-2 Cowboys went head to head with the 4-0 Peyton Manning led Broncos. No one gave the Cowboys a chance, and they would have gotten blown out if it wasn’t for Romo. In the best statistical game of his career, Romo outdueled Peyton Manning by throwing for 506 yards and 5 touchdowns. Three different Cowboy receivers had over 100 yards. Despite putting up 48 points, the Cowboys needed one more drive to win the game. On 2nd and 16 with two minutes left and the score tied at 48, Romo dropped back and as he threw was hit by Tyron Smith who was being pushed back, the throw was intended for Gavin Escobar but was intercepted by the Broncos.
Denver would go on to kick the game-winning field goal. The Cowboys would fall to a 2-3 with their season looking awfully familiar to 2011 and 2012. In Week 12, Dallas would head to New Jersey with 1st place in the NFC East on the line. In a 21-21 game with a little over 4 minutes left to play, Tony Romo was clutch. On two straight third downs, he hit Dez Bryant to keep the drive alive. On 3rd and 10 with a minute left to play, Romo hit Cole Beasley for a first down. Dan Bailey would kick a game-winning field goal as time expired, putting the Cowboys in 1st place with 5 games left to play.
The Cowboys would go 1-2 to move their record to 7-7 heading into a Week 16 win or season is over game against the Redskins at Fedexfield. Just one year prior to this the Cowboys were beat as Romo had his worst throw of his career to effectively end the game. Romo would respond with his most impressive outing, just like he had done throughout his career so many times. With 12 minutes left the Cowboys trailed by a score of 23-14, Tony Romo dropped back on third down and fired a completed pass to Cole Beasley. In the process Romo was hit awkwardly as he did his vintage “Romo Spin”. Barely able to walk, Romo led the Cowboys to a field goal to make it a one-score game.
The Cowboys got the ball back with 3:39 left to play trailing by 6. Romo still hurt, facing a nearly identical situation to the one he faced the previous season when he threw an interception on a screen play. Romo would avenge that mistake by taking the Cowboys 85 yards down the field to score on a “4th and season” pass to Demarco Murray to win the game. A 24-23 comeback win by Tony Romo was the most impressive of his career because he did it with a herniated disc in his back for the entire 4th quarter. The herniated disc forced Romo to miss the third straight Week 17 win or go home game, which ended with a Kyle Orton interception as the Cowboys season was over without a playoff berth for the third straight season.
History would suggest Week 17 would have been completely different if Romo was in the lineup, the Cowboys defeated the Eagles 17-3 in Week 8. Many started to doubt Romo’s durability after he was injured in 2008, 2010, 2011, and now 2013. Nobody expected the Cowboys to win more than 4 games in 2014. Many called for the Cowboys to draft Romo’s replacement, as fear for his durability after consecutive back surgeries forced him to rehab while the Cowboys did their offseason program. Week 1 of the 2014 season would add fuel to the skepticism. Romo did not get injured but he played an awful game with 3 interceptions in route to a 28-17 loss on opening day to the 49ers.
After the game, many media members would predict the 2014 Dallas Cowboys would be the worst team in franchise history. The Cowboys beat the Titans the following week but would find themselves down 21-0 against the St. Louis Rams Week 3. In danger of going 1-2, looking like a repeat of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons Romo dug deep and led his team to a season-saving comeback. Romo would toss two second half touchdowns to propel the Cowboys to a 34-31 win. After week two, the Cowboys were rolling winning their next two games. At 4-1 the Cowboys would travel to Seattle to face the defending Super Bowl Champions.
The Seahawks defense was the best in the NFL, they proved it by going up 10-0 early. Romo was knocked out with bruised ribs in the 1st quarter on 3rd down by a crushing hit, the Seahawks would score on a blocked punt the next play. Romo came back into the game and led the Cowboys to 17 unanswered points. Seattle regained the lead in the 4th quarter 23-20. In this moment Romo was at his best. On 3rd and 5 with 6:50 left to play, Romo hit Dez Bryant for a first down. On the following set of downs, the Cowboys faced a 3rd and 20. Many expecting a draw play to set up a punt, Romo went for the home run as he spun out of pressure and fired a bullet to Terrance Williams for a first down. The magnitude of the game makes it the best play of Tony Romo’s career.
The Cowboys would score a touchdown on the drive and win the game against the almighty Seahawks, 30-23. Romo finished the day going 21 for 32 with 250 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Cowboys would beat the Giants the following week, as they headed into Week 8 with a 6-1 record, the best start since 2007. Disaster struck in on Monday Night Football against the Redskins. The only thing that could have slowed down the “Romomentum” is an injury.
Down 10-7 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Romo was kneed in the surgically repaired back on a sack, Romo was taken back to the locker room for X-Rays. With 1 hit, the 6-1 start to the season didn’t matter as the Cowboys season looked to be over. Two minutes left in the game tied at 17, Tony Romo came trotting back on the field with a broken transverse process in his back. Romo was hit on his first throwing attempt but would convert a first down which killed enough time on the clock to send the game into overtime. The Cowboys would end up losing the game, and their quarterback for their Week 9 matchup with the Cardinals.
The Cowboys would only score one offensive touchdown in garbage time in a loss. Romo would return the following week against the Jaguars in London and throw for 247 yards, 3 touchdowns on 20 for 27 pass attempts. Romo would be forced to take a pain killing back injection for the remainder of the season.
The injection and the fracture was not a factor as the Cowboys only lost 1 game after Romo returned going 6-1. Romo would put up a historic December, in fact he had the highest QBR in NFL history with 133.7, went 4-0 scoring over 38 points each game, threw 12 touchdowns and completed 74.8 of his passes. The Cowboys would win the NFC East Championship, with an 8-0 record on the road. Despite having a 12-4 record, the Cowboys had to play in the wild card round at home against the Lions. Early on, it looked to be another Cowboys playoff loss as the Lions started off hot with a 14-0 lead. Right before the half on 3rd and 12, Romo threw a 76 yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams to give the Cowboys hope for the 2nd half. In the second half down 20-7, on 3rd and 10 Romo hit Dez Bryant for a 42 yard gain, the Cowboys would score a few plays later making it a 20-14 game heading into the 4th quarter.
After Dan Bailey hit a field goal, the Cowboys would get the ball back after a punt. Down 20-17 with the season on the line with 6 minutes left on 4th and 6, Romo threw a 1st down to Jason Witten to keep the drive alive. One of the most important and powerful conversions in Dallas Cowboys history. A few plays later with 2:39 left to play on 3rd and Goal, Tony Romo threw the game-winning touchdown to Terrance Williams. Romo went 19 for 31 with 293 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 24-20 playoff victory. The Cowboys would have to play the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. This game would become one of the most controversial in NFL history.
The Packers struck first with an Aaron Rodgers touchdown run. Rodgers touches was limited due to a calf injury but the Cowboys defense did not apply any pressure. Romo would respond with a touchdown of his own to Tyler Clutts. The Cowboys would score again after Romo threw a 38 yard touchdown to Terrance Williams. After a Packers punt, The Cowboys missed a field goal. The Packers would capitalize with a field goal of their own off the miss before the end of the half to make it a 14-10 game.
To open the 2nd half, Demarco Murray had a huge hole he broke through, as his eyes looked toward the end zone in what should have been a sure touchdown he got lazy with the football, Julius Peppers stripped him in what would be the most important play of the game that nobody talks about. The fumble would lead to Green Bay scoring another field goal to make it a 14-13 game. Tony Romo would drive the Cowboys down the field to make it a 21-13 game. Rodgers would respond with a touchdown on 3rd and 15 to make it a 21-20 game heading into the 4th quarter. The Packers would quickly get the ball back after a sack, Rodgers hit Richard Rodgers for a touchdown.
Green Bay failed the two point conversion, the game was now 26-21. With 4:42 left to play down 5 on 4th and 2, Tony Romo fired a pass to Dez Bryant that was ruled a touchdown. According to Dean Blandino, Dez Bryant did not catch it in one of the most controversial overturns in the replay era. The Cowboys offense would not see the ball back as the defense could not make a stop. The Packers ran the clock out and ended the Cowboys season. After the game, a fan saw Tony Romo come out of the stadium, he was greeted by his family and immediately broke down. The game meant so much to Romo as he had the chance at a Super Bowl ripped away from him.
If the Cowboys would have won, they would have played Seattle who they beat earlier in the regular season. A few weeks after the season ended, Romo did an interview on the Ben and Skin Show on 105.3 the fan and explained how going elsewhere to a different team would not mean anything to him because of how much he’s put into his career in Dallas for the Cowboys and their fan base, he wants to win a Super Bowl for his teammates and the fans so badly. Romo had nothing to hang his head about, he finished with the highest QBR in the NFL with a 113.2 rating. Romo was robbed from the MVP award and a trip to the NFC Championship game all in one season.
After an abrupt halt to the 2014 season, the best of Romo’s career, the 2015 season was filled with high expectations. Romo lived up to the hype Week 1 as he led a heroic comeback win against the division rival New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Down 10 with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter without Dez Bryant, Romo threw a touchdown to Jason Witten. It was 26-20 when the Cowboys got the ball back after the Giants kicked a field goal. With 1:26 left, Romo drove the Cowboys 71 yards to score with 7 seconds left. Romo would face another division foe the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
The worst thing that could’ve happened to the Cowboys was an injury to Romo, and it happened when Jordan Hicks fractured Tony Romo’s left clavicle. Romo would miss 7 weeks, in that span the Cowboys lost 7 straight games, keep in mind they started 2-0. In desperation, Romo returned as quickly as possible. In his first game back, his first pass was completed after he threw it left handed to avoid a safety. Romo led the Cowboys to their first win in seven games, going 18-28 with 227 yards 2 touchdowns and 2 INT.
In a must win game on thanksgiving the following week against the best defense in the NFL the Carolina Panthers, Romo would have his worst performance throwing 3 interceptions and once again fracturing his clavicle for the 2nd time, ending his season. The Cowboys would go on to win only 1 game to finish the season 4-12.
Without Tony Romo, the Cowboys went 1-11 in 2015, the other 3 wins came from the games Romo played in. The offseason priority became to find a backup quarterback to Tony Romo who could win a game and possibly be the answer once Romo retired. Little did the Cowboys know, they would find their answer in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Dak Prescott. The rise of Dak Prescott began once the Cowboys backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle before the Cowboys first preseason game.
Dak was given the majority of the reps in preseason and made the most of his opportunity. Romo made his second preseason appearance against the Seahawks in Week 3. On the first drive, Romo would slide after he escaped pressure but Cliff Avril hit him on his way down, fracturing his L1 vertebrae. The news broke days later, after many believed Romo would be okay as he wanted to re enter the game. Romo was told he would miss 4-6 weeks, then that turned into 10 weeks. The Cowboys would lose their opening day game against the Giants 20-19. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott propelled the Cowboys to eight straight wins.
The win streak made Jason Garrett believe the Cowboys could win a Super Bowl with a Rookie Quarterback as he named Dak the permanent starter. On the Tuesday before the Cowboys played the Ravens, Romo held a press conference in what would be one of his finest moments as a Dallas Cowboys. Healthy enough to be active for the first time, Romo told the world as much as it hurt him to say Dak Prescott has earned the right to be the Cowboys starting quarterback.
Romo’s speech was classy, selfless and showed everyone how much his teammates and organization meant to him as he displayed his love for the game of football. The question to ride with Dak Prescott as the starter can be questioned but one thing is for certain, there’s not many people who could handle it the way Tony Romo did. In Week 17, Tony Romo returned to the field for the first time since his injury. Romo’s first pass attempt would be an incomplete bomb to Terrance Williams. On 3rd and 11, Romo completed his next pass to Terrance Williams for a first down. Romo then completed a pass to Darren Mcfadden, followed by a pass to Dez Bryant which he was interfered on, this brought the ball to the 4 yard line.
Romo capitalized as he threw a touchdown to Terrance Williams. Romo was pulled to preserve him for the playoffs if needed. Romo showed a glimpse of what could have been, makes you wonder what could have been especially since he told everyone this is the best Cowboys roster he has ever had. With opportunities to play elsewhere, Romo stayed true to his word of how much he cherished being a Cowboy. Romo will be a post-June 1st cut, as he plans to take over for Phil Simms while doing NFL games on CBS with Jim Nantz. For now, Tony Romo’s career looks to be over, but as Romo stated “never say never” for a possible return.
So have you decided what Romo’s legacy is yet? After a decade of having the pleasure to watch Tony Romo with a star on his helmet, the final stat line reads 34,183 passing yards, 248 touchdowns and a 97.1 passer rating. Although the stat line is impressive, it’s evident Romo’s time in Dallas meant so much more than any number could state. Tony Romo will be remembered as one of the most influential professional athletes of all time because of how he handled himself on and off the field.
I’m confident in stating that due to the positive impact he has had on myself and millions of Cowboy fans around the world. Sincerely Cowboys Nation thanks you Tony Romo, for being someone we are able to look up to as our hero. You are appreciated and you are a Hall of Fame quarterback and more importantly, a Hall of Fame person in my book.