Tony Romo had a chance to steer Dallas into the playoffs, and once again, he failed.
His facial expression after the game said it all. It was a mix of disbelief, anger, shock and sadness. However, one emotion was missing from that group: acceptance.
And that's the key.
Romo hasn't accepted this fate.
He's not content losing in his third win-and-you’re-in game in the past five years. He's not happy failing in big game after big game, nor is he content having his legacy torn down after each loss.
The results may not show it, but Romo wants to win.
Fans may not be happy. And you can bet Jerry Jones is upset. But Romo is still the man to lead Dallas despite another late-season disappointment.
No one can doubt Romo’s talent. He puts up elite numbers season after season.
But it’s his internal instinct to make a play no matter what that gets him in trouble. The Wisconsin native just has a little bit too much Brett Favre in him.
But like Favre, his innate ability to extend plays and make magic happen is also the thing that makes him special. After all, without Romo there is no way the Cowboys would have even had a chance to compete for a division title in Week 17.
The last third of the season, Romo led the Cowboys' down-the-field time in the fourth quarter to keep the season alive
This was in spite of a porous offensive line, a group that couldn't block anyone early in the year and only managed to get marginally better late. Also, it should be noted that Romo is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who could have survived the poor line play because of his elusiveness.
But it just so happens that Romo is a lightning rod of criticism.
There are fans that will never give him a chance, and there are those who continue to hold out hope he can be more Troy Aikman and less Danny White.
The stats will always be there for Romo, but the wins must come around.
Romo's internal football clock is ticking. At 32 years old, time is running out for him to change his legacy.
But his time isn't quite up in Dallas.
The Cowboys won't have a better option than Romo in the offseason. So why even discuss giving Romo the boot?
With a reworked offensive line, who knows how good Romo can be?
Romo came up short against the Redskins, of that there is no doubt.
But his story isn’t quite written yet.
John Elway didn't win a Super Bowl until he was 37.
Romo isn't Elway, not even close—Elway led Denver to three Super Bowl appearances early in his career. But give Romo an offensive line and another season, and he could work his way there.
Romo's star hasn't dimmed quite yet in Dallas. He still has time left, now he just has to capitalize.