What a difference a week makes.
After his fourth-quarter meltdown in Week One, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was disparaged by the football world for his team’s heartbreaking (27-24) loss to the New York Jets. The talks of the week were that Romo continues to falter in the clutch, never makes the right decisions, and is awful in the fourth quarter. All critiques have merit, based off of the controversial QB’s history, especially in the playoffs –bobble snap in the 2006 playoff loss at Seattle, divisional loss to the New York Giants the following year, and another divisional loss to the Minnesota Vikings in ’09. But, Romo has been here before.
Since he was named the starter for the Cowboys in 2006, the undeterred QB has endured his share of growing pains and remains poised after each late-game collapse. Romo knows his pros and cons. And with each error, Number 9 has rebounded to display signs of brilliance. In fact, before the Cowboys’ Week Two match up versus the San Francisco 49ers, Romo led nine fourth-quarter comeback victories. It seems the negative comments, and skepticism, fuels his drive to win. And this past Sunday was no different.
Romo’s Week Two performance changed the tune of many. He took a hit on the opening drive of the game against the 49ers. After leaving before halftime and getting treatment -for a fractured rib and punctured lung- the gutsy QB returned in the final minute of the third-quarter. He threw for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a 77-yard completion to Jesse Holley off the ‘Boys first snap in OT to set up Dan Bailey’s game-winning field goal. What ensued after Cowboys’ (27-24) victory was a complete turn-around in the perception of Romo – he went from being vilified the week before for his late-game fumble against the Jets to now being praised for his courageous and heroic performance this past Sunday, his tenth fourth-quarter comeback.
The debate will rage on whether Romo is the right man for the job, until he leads the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl. But what can’t be questioned is the quarterback’s will to win, toughness and – most importantly – his heart. His peers recognize their leader’s resiliency. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, Defensive End Marcus Spears and Linebacker Keith Brooking all voiced their support and confidence for their QB after his collapse in week one. In a show of good faith for their support, last Sunday, Romo went an extraordinary 12 for 15 in the fourth-quarter and overtime, completing 20 of 33 passes for 345 yards for the game.
Romo plays under intense scrutiny, and he will until he delivers that signature win in the playoffs, or a championship, to be considered amongst the best QB’s in the NFL. Highlights show he’s terrible down the stretch, but the numbers say there’s a reason to believe.
This week, Romo was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week – his fifth – for the Cowboys come-from-behind win over the 49ers. He has the second highest winning percentage of a Cowboys quarterback, in their first 5 seasons, with .639, behind Roger Staubach‘s .728. Troy Aikman is third. He’s thrown for more touchdowns than any other Cowboys’ quarterback, in their first 5 seasons, with 118 TD’s. And no other QB – not Manning, Brady, Brees or Rodgers – has a better fourth-quarter passer rating than Romo (100.0).
So the correct question is; do you believe the Wisconsin native can get the job done? Former Cowboys coach, the legendary Bill Parcells – who made the decision to start Romo in his tenure – told ESPN he believes in Number 9’s ability to take the ‘Boys to the title. “He’s done amazing things in football. He lengthens plays. He extends them. He emphasizes,” Parcells stated. “Every once in a while there will be some bad things. But I can assure you this young man, with a good supporting cast can take his team to the championship. No doubt in my mind.”
Although, there’s some concern whether the injured quarterback – pneumothorax, a collapsed lung condition – will be ready for the Cowboys home opener in Week Three’s match-up against the Washington Redskins, Tony Romo will again change our perception. Hate him or love him, the underrated QB will be ready on top of his game. Do you believe?