A day after Tony Romo saved the Dallas Cowboys' playoff hopes, his season has reportedly come to a close.
Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Romo has been shelved for the remainder of the 2013-14 NFL season with a back injury:
Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been ruled out the rest of the season due to his back injury, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2013
Source indicated final determination not yet been made on Romo, but likely Kyle Orton starts. Team would need to sign QB, only 2 on roster— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 23, 2013
A Cowboys official said "it's looking that way," when asked if ESPN report of Romo being out for the season with a back injury was correct— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 23, 2013
Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan reports the same and notes the injury is connected to the cyst that Romo had removed last offseason:
My maybe-key words #Cowboys last sprg: 'Partial Discectomy.' Shaving of Romo disc along w cyst remove). Leaves back susceptible when twisted— mike fisher (@fishsports) December 23, 2013
Could #cowboys Romo play? Source to me: 'He could depending on if disc is hitting motor nerve or just extremely painful.' If it's motor, OUT— mike fisher (@fishsports) December 23, 2013
Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that Romo has been diagnosed with a herniated disc and will need surgery:
Tony Romo diagnosed with herniated disc. Surgery necessary, per sources— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 23, 2013
As for what surgery would mean for Romo, NFL on ESPN's Twitter account provided some insight into the timetable:
Regarding the Tony Romo news, ESPN Medical Analyst Dr Michael Kaplan says herniated disc back surgery is a "3-4 month" recovery timeframe.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 23, 2013
Head coach Jason Garrett denied reports during his press conference that Romo has been ruled out (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com):
Jason Garrett says the team has not “made that determination at all” when asked if Tony Romo is out for the season. Talks about treatment— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2013
Former NFL head team physician Doctor David J. Chao added:
In the #Romo risk/reward equation, playing with a herniated lumbar disc has no increase chance of paralysis, even with a big hit.— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) December 24, 2013
Late on Monday night owner Jerry Jones refused to rule Romo out for Sunday's game via NFL.com:
"All I'm saying is he has back spasms, symptoms that we're treating as we go along in the week to see if he will play. There is nothing structurally that will rule him out if he feels good and is cleared to play. Nothing.
The facts are there is a lot of we can't comment on. But the most important thing is if he feels better as the week goes along, there is nothing structurally to prevent him from playing. He might be cleared to play."
In a season with plenty of controversy—from Dez Bryant yelling at teammates and coaches on the sidelines to Garrett's job possibly being on the line—the Cowboys are in a position to win the NFC East nonetheless, needing a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17 to do so.
That was in large part due to the efforts of Romo, who led the Cowboys to a fourth-quarter comeback win against Washington in Week 16. Tim MacMahon of ESPN summed up the bitter turn of events:
What a cruel twist to the Tony Romo saga. Leads great drive to set up Week 17 win-or-go-home game despite season-ending back injury.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2013
That would leave Kyle Orton as the starter against Philadelphia with a playoff berth at stake. As ESPN Stats & Info notes, Orton hasn't seen the field much in the past two years:
Kyle Orton is Romo's backup. Orton has attempted 15 passes the last 2 seasons (5 this season).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 23, 2013
In the past two seasons, the Cowboys have lost against NFC East teams with a playoff spot on the line in their regular-season finale. If Romo is in fact done for the year, the odds of that happening a third straight time dramatically increase.
As SportsCenter on Twitter notes, the Cowboys are far better with Romo starting than they are with anyone else:
Since his 1st start with Cowboys in 2006, Tony Romo is 63-45. All other Dallas quarterbacks are 6-7.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 23, 2013
While Romo continues to battle the notion that he isn't clutch, he once again posted excellent numbers for the Cowboys, completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 3,828 yards, 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in 2013.
If nothing else, Romo can't be made the scapegoat if he is out and the Cowboys lose in Week 17, as he often has been this season.