Tony Romo: Can He Really Lead the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl?
While fans shouldn't be reactionary after the Cowboys first win of the season, they shouldn't have been after the team's gut-wrenching defeat to the New York Jets in Week 1 either.
But, upon his return to the game against the San Francisco 49ers yesterday, Romo showed something that made Cowboys' fans smile from ear to ear—heart.
Here is why Tony Romo is the player that Cowboys' fans need to learn to live with in victory or go down with in defeat.
Week 1 Loss
When Dez Bryant was healthy, Tony Romo looked unstoppable against one of the best defenses in the NFL, the New York Jets.
But after Bryant was hobbled with a thigh injury, the offense fell apart.
Bryant stayed on the field as a decoy drawing the attention of Darrelle Revis. So it was understandable why Bryant kept playing, but it was puzzling to see Romo throwing in his direction.
Romo finished the game going 23 for 36 with 342 passing yards, two touchdowns, a late fumble and an interception.
Even the best quarterbacks make mistakes. Were the fumble on the goal line and the late interception to Revis giant mistakes that cost the team the game? Yes.
But the season isn't over after one game, and while it would have been nice to start the season 2-0, a NFL quarterback will face adversity. It's the great ones that respond well in the face of it.
Week 2 Win
Tony Romo heard the clamor after the loss to the Jets. Does he have a propensity to make mistakes in big moments? Is he the wrong quarterback for the Cowboys?
Once again, but this time with no Dez Bryant on the field, Romo started the game hot. It wasn't long before his play started to flounder though, and soon enough a big hit fractured one of Romo's ribs.
Romo left the game, and, after a slight comeback by John Kitna, the Cowboys trailed the San Francisco 49ers by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Then, grimacing in obvious pain from his injury, Romo strapped on a helmet and came back in the game.
Showing tenacity that some didn't think he had, Romo lead the team back into the game culminating in a field goal kick to win in overtime.
Romo's numbers were impressive again. He went 20 for 33 with 345 yards and two touchdowns, but Romo posted similar statistics after the loss to the Jets, minus a interception and a fumble.
It wasn't the yardage total that made Cowboy fans revel in the victory. It was how the team won. The Cowboys fought back from a deficit in front of an unfriendly audience.
The team looked down and out after Romo left the game (although the game did get tied for a brief moment).
It is not that San Francisco is a great team. The Cowboys were the favorite and should have won, but the most important thing that came out of the victory in San Francisco is that Romo wasn't afraid to put the team on his shoulders.
Romo didn't cower in a situation that many quarterbacks would have cowered in.
Statistics Don't Lie
Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has made some mistakes at inopportune times, but all quarterbacks have.
When you look at Romo's statistics they comparable favorably to the top few guys in the league.
If Romo's first season of 181.4 passing yards a game is excluded, he has averaged over 260 yards per game for the rest of his career, which is very close to Brady and Manning's averages.
Romo actually has a higher touchdown percentage and a similar interception rate, too. He posts a 5.7 touchdown percentage compared to 5.6 from Brady and 5.5 from Manning, and Romo has a 2.9 interception rate compared to Brady's 2.7 (Manning's is outstanding at 2.2).
While mistakes are always blamed on the quarterback, they aren't always their fault, but Romo does need to get better in the clutch. Yet, clutch play only comes from experience and having ice water in your veins, and hopefully Romo has enough of both.
Romo Is the Guy
Tony Romo is the guy who gives the Cowboys the best chance to win.
Romo has showed his tremendous talent playing with a subpar offensive line. He can't do it all by himself, although it seems like Romo has at times.
The Cowboys still need a few pieces on defense and an improved offensive line to help Romo out and be favorites to take it all, but even with the players they have now, if key positions stay healthy, like cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback, the Cowboys have a chance to take the NFC East and make some noise in the playoffs.
One victory shouldn't restore hopes of a return to glory, just as one loss shouldn't sound the alarms, but the Cowboys could have been, and probably should have been, 2-0 to start the season.
And after such a devastating loss, Romo simply brushed it off and thought about the next game. While Miles Austin and Jason Witten contributed, Romo didn't have many other weapons as he led the team to victory with a group of little known receivers, and San Francisco is no push-over on the defensive side of the ball.
If Romo is willing and able to play hurt, you will see a team that improves each week on offense. If the defense under Rob Ryan can make some stops and give Romo an opportunity to win games, the Cowboys are in store for a great season.