I could have sworn I watched the game last night. I had it on, anyway. But nowhere did I see Tony Romo running around with bloody rib bone sticking out of his jersey, making impossible touchdown throws, suffering through some unknowable agony to lead his team, his city, his fellow man to so some impossible victory.
But listening to the quarterbacks analyzing the game, and the quarterbacks breaking it down afterward, and the quarterback fetishists yapping about it on radio, you'd think the game hinged entirely on Romo's manliness. Johnny Unitas would have sucked it up, and he played before ribs were even invented. Would Romo do the same?
In the end, though, it hinged on so many things, almost none of which were Romo. The sudden appearance of a running game. A mostly competent defense. Center Phil Costa's ability, in key spots, to contain himself from hucking the ball directly into Romo's groin. And the team, both offense and defense, overcoming its chronic disorganization. At times they looked like zoo animals trying to execute a flash mob, and yet somehow they won, mostly because of a 23-year-old kicker. That was the story.
Romo? Might as well have been John Kitna.
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Obviously it's impossible to know what Kitna would have done differently. Maybe after the third snap to the gut he would have slit Costa's neck with a laminated playsheet? Who knows? But Romo was, without question, Kitna-esque: Here's his ending stat line:
Look familiar? That's because it's nearly identical (but slightly worse) than that of the quarterback he went up against, Rex Grossman, whose mediocrity never goes unquestioned:
The game just didn't have that much to do with either of them. But there were the quarterbacks-turned-yappers, during and afterward, wondering whether Romo "can he take a hit," "can he make a play," urging viewers to "watch Tony Romo" execute, I swear to god, a hand off, lauding his "gritty effort," and quoting him afterward, without irony, as saying: "Unless I end up in a morgue, I'm gonna play."
Well, then. Here's hoping Tony Romo doesn't end up in a morgue. He'll never live it down.