Tony Romo nearly sounded an early death knell to the Dallas Cowboys season when he suffered a fractured rib on the third play of the Cowboys game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. If Romo had missed the rest of the game, the 49ers would have likely won.
An 0-2 start would have set the Cowboys back the way their horrid 1-4 start set them back.
However, Romo returned and led the Cowboys to a comeback overtime victory. Romo's heroics were predicated by a slow start to his return. He completed only nine of his 19 passes for 150 yards.
This earned great displeasure from the Cowboys faithful. Cowboys fans had seen their nightmares come to life once again in Week 1 when Romo blew a 14-point lead with a fumble that lost a potentially game-clinching drive and an interception that led to the Jets' game-winning field goal.
Romo was off to a scary stretch.
Fortunately, Romo shook off the blahs to rally the Cowboys from a 10-point deficit to win. Romo was completely clutch in the latter stages of the game. Midway through the fourth quarter, Romo brought the Cowboys through for a touchdown drive to bring the Cowboys within three.
In the rally, Romo completed 11-of-14 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. All Romo needed was a little help from rookie kicker Dan Bailey, who was just as clutch as Romo was in the win.
"Clutch" is the word that Romo needs to have associated with him in order to become an elite quarterback. Elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees lead their teams to comeback wins. Showing some of the competitive gut that he had trumpeted in the offseason, Romo imitated the elite quarterbacks.
Conversely, Jon Kitna cannot be at all associated with the idea of the competitor.
Kitna has never sniffed the postseason. He is known more for coming back from concussions than coming back from large deficits. Kitna was little more than a game manager last year for the Cowboys.
While he did have a career-high 65.7 percent completion percentage and 88.9 quarterback rating, he was under little pressure with the season lost as he entered the fold with the Cowboys sitting 1-4.
In his action on Sunday, Kitna struggled immensely. His two interceptions scared anyone who imagined the possibility of Romo missing a significant amount of time with his fractured rib.
The Cowboys would be short by a mile if Romo misses more than one game with his fractured rib. Kitna might be a serviceable stand-in, but he can't patch the Cowboys offense for an extended period of time.
Kitna is third among active quarterbacks with 165 interceptions, three fewer than his career touchdown total. He has a career 77.3 quarterback rating.
All this means that the Cowboys would have to rely on their running game if Romo misses much time.
Romo delivered the heroics for the Cowboys despite difficulty breathing due to his fractured rib. Now, the Cowboys await the implications of his injury.
Since Romo is an invaluable asset to the Cowboys, the team would be very worried about the complexion of the season if he misses much time. With the numerous injuries to Cowboys players and the remarkable 2-0 starts by the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions, these teams have become surprisingly daunting opponents.
The Redskins and Lions—not to mention the New England Patriots in Week 5—become even more daunting if Romo is missing.
In the first two games, the Cowboys lived and died by Romo's arm. Concerning the rest of the season, the Cowboys could live strong with Romo healthy soon or die if he misses much time.