The Worst of Tony Romo

Last week, the Observer praised Tony Romo. The Cowboys quarterback has, for better or worse, brought plenty of excitement to fans for a decade. He's affable, talented and made some of the best throws in the history of the franchise. Still, over that decade, Romo has failed to lead the Cowboys anywhere close to the success of the Jimmy Johnson/Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith/Michael Irvin glory days.
More often, Romo has flamed out spectacularly. While he's usually lacked much of a supporting cast, Romo himself has made plenty of backbreaking mistakes since taking over the starting job in 2006. Here are some of the most painful.

10. The collapse on opening night against the Jets: Despite coming off a 6-10 2010, the 2011 Cowboys had reason to hope. They had a new coach, Jason Garrett, who'd led the Cowboys to five wins in their last eight games of 2010 after the team started 1-7 under Wade Phillips. Running back Felix Jones appeared ready to have a breakout season and Romo, with four full seasons under his belt, looked set to take the leap. As Jones scored early in the fourth quarter in New Jersey against the Jets to put the Cowboys up 24-10, everything was looking up. Then the Cowboys, and Romo, melted down. Keyed by a blocked punt and a backbreaking Romo interception with just under a minute to play, the Jets scored 17 unanswered points, sending the Cowboys on their way to an 8-8 season.
9. Hitting the pothole against the Eagles in 2014: Heading into Thanksgiving 2014, the Cowboys were 8-3 and poised to run away with the NFC East with a win against the Eagles. The Eagles whipped the Cowboys in Dallas, 33-10. Romo threw two interceptions and no touchdowns, keying an offensive meltdown by one of the team's best units. The Cowboys won their last four games to go 12-4, but the loss to the Eagles meant the Cowboys ended up with the NFC's third playoff seed, rather than its first. That meant the Cowboys didn't get a first round bye and were forced to go on the road in the divisional round against the Packers. They'd lose that game, one that could've been played in Arlington, on Dez Bryant's infamous non-catch.
8. The beginning of the end against the Titans: The 2010 Cowboys were supposed to bring the Cowboys back. The team went 11-5 in 2009. Tony Romo finally won a playoff a game and Wade Phillips, the team's head coach, looked like he was building something sustainable. Heading into a week five match-up with the Titans, however, the Cowboys were 1-2 and trying to steady the ship. Despite the benefit of coming off their bye week, the Cowboys did no such thing. Romo threw three interceptions and the Cowboys dipped to 1-3. They'd lose four more in a row, costing Phillips his job.
7. The last sad Thanksgiving: Before last Thanksgiving's game against the Panthers kicked off, the Cowboys were 3-7, thanks in large part to Tony Romo's having missed seven games with a broken collarbone. Romo was back, however, and the Cowboys were coming off a win against the Dolphins in Miami. With Romo, Vegas believed in the Cowboys enough to install them as 1.5-point favorites against the Panthers, despite the Panthers having won each of their first 10 games. Romo threw three interceptions before leaving the game with another broken clavicle. The Cowboys lost 33-10.
6. Things fall apart against the Packers: After 13 games in 2013, the Cowboys were 7-6, right in the thick of the playoff chase. At halftime, they led 26-3 and were headed for their eighth win. Then the Packers scored five second-half touchdowns on their way to a 37-36 win in Arlington. Romo threw two critical fourth quarter interceptions, sealing the Cowboys fate.
5. The Redskins wipe out the Cowboys' 2012 playoff dreams: Somehow, despite being outscored by 12 points in their first 15 games, the 2012 Cowboys were in position to make the playoffs. All they had to do was beat the Redskins on the last Sunday night of the season. Despite a lackluster performance, the Cowboys got the ball back with just over 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, trailing Washington 21-18. After a 14-yard completion moved the Cowboys' offense to their own 29, Romo threw another critical, late-game interception, ensuring that Romo and the Cowboys missed the playoffs for the third straight season.
4. The Eagles destroy the 2008 Cowboys: The last game of the 2008 season, another do-or-die game for the Cowboys and their playoff chances, ended in a 44-6 Eagles massacre. Romo had three big turnovers, an interception and two fumbles, and failed to move the ball all afternoon. The game remains one of the most embarrassing in Cowboys history.
3. The no-chance saloon in Minnesota: In 2009, after Phillips' and Romo's first playoff win in the wild card round against the Eagles, the Cowboys headed to Minnesota to play for a spot in the NFC Championship. They, and Romo specifically, spit the bit. Romo, again, had three turnovers, an interception and two fumbles, as the Cowboys got waxed 34-3.
2. 13-3 isn't good enough: Romo led the Cowboys to a 13-3 regular season record in 2007, securing the NFC's top playoff seed. The team faced the Giants, whom they'd already beaten twice, at home in the divisional round. Romo only threw one interception, but it was on the biggest play of the game, a fourth-and-11 deep in Giants territory with the Cowboys trailing 21-17 late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys lost, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
1. The dropped snap: All Romo had to do for the Cowboys to beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the 2006 wild card playoffs was catch and hold the ball for a game-winning field goal attempt. Romo, still the team's holder despite being promoted from backup to starter midway through the 2006 season, dropped the snap and then failed to scramble into the end zone, dooming the Cowboys to a 21-20 loss.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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