The Dallas Cowboys' playoff hopes received a major blow on Monday. According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, quarterback Tony Romo will miss the remainder of the season, including Week 17's mammoth winner-take-all matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, because of 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
Naturally, Twitter exploded.
Shortly after Schefter broke the story, his ESPN colleague, Chris Mortensen, reported that Romo is suffering from a herniated disc in his back and will need surgery at some point:
Tony Romo diagnosed with herniated disc. Surgery necessary, per sources— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 23, 2013
However, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport quoted Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett when clarifying that the team has yet to shut down Romo for Week 17 and beyond:
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
CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora confirmed the previous reports, though, suggesting that Romo will likely miss Dallas' regular-season finale, opening the door for backup quarterback Kyle Orton to start under center:
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
Garrett addressed the media shortly after Schefter's report.
If Romo undergoes back surgery, he's likely to be out several months, per NFL on ESPN on Twitter:
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
ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon points out the harsh turn of events for Romo:
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
Once a consensus on Romo's status was reached, The Fake ESPN wasted little time in taking a shot at the injured signal-caller and another oft-criticized sports star:
Tony Romo finds new way to fail in the clutch, credits Derrick Rose for idea— The Fake ESPN (@TheFakeESPN) December 23, 2013
Like many, Bleacher Report's Cian Fahey highlighted Romo's seemingly lose-lose predicament:
It's sad that even if Tony Romo fights through this injury and miraculously plays next week, he'll still get slated if they don't win.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) December 23, 2013
ESPN's Michael Smith was among the few who were praising Romo's toughness after the reports surfaced:
Tony Romo is one tough hombre. This is a fact, and it is undisputed.— Michael Smith (@michaelsmith) December 23, 2013
The NFL on FOX provides a rarely talked-about stat that shows just how solid Romo has been over the course of his 11-year career:
Tony Romo finishes w/ an 8th consecutive season of a 90+ passer rating, the 2nd most in NFL history only behind Peyton & Steve Young (tied).— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 23, 2013
But according to SportsCenter on Twitter, the Cowboys will be up against the odds in Week 17 regardless of whether Romo or backup Kyle Orton starts under center:
DID YOU KNOW: Tony Romo is 14-21 in his career in December/January; 1-6 in week 17 or playoffs when team has to win in order to advance.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 23, 2013
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
ESPN sports business journalist Darren Rovell reports that Romo's status has made the Eagles mighty favorites to win in Week 17 and suggests the long-term implications of the quarterback's health:
Tony Romo's loss shifts line by 4.5 points. Guys @sportsbook_com now have Eagles as 7.5 point favorite, was at -3.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) December 23, 2013
The Cowboys paid Tony Romo $1.5 million this year, but next year, the team pays him $26.5 MILLION as part of his new extension.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) December 23, 2013
The Cowboys (8-7) will host the Eagles (9-6) on Sunday Night Football in the final week of the regular season. The winner will win the NFC East division and secure a home playoff game in January.
Philadelphia hasn't won the division or reached the postseason since 2010, while Dallas has missed out on the playoffs in each of the past three seasons since last winning the NFC East in 2009.