Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys epitomize NFC East mess


(Associated Press)

So ends another horribly forgettable week in the annals of NFC East football 2013. In games Sunday, not one single team from the division managed to win a game, although, looking at this charitably, two fell by only one point. Looking at this not-so-charitably, one was shut out and the other lost by 18.

The Eagles, the closest thing to a hot team in the East with a 4-1 record over their last five games, stumbled badly Sunday, losing to 4-9-1 Minnesota by 18 points. The Redskins lost by a point in the battle of three-win teams. The Giants’ 23-0 loss to Seattle put two of the team’s biggest names, Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, in the crosshairs. Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor called for Coughlin to go and Gary Myers of the New York Daily News writes that Manning’s Super Bowl MVP performances “can no longer protect him” from blame for this mess.

The worst of the worst by far, though, were the Cowboys. Behind a solid running attack, they built a 26-3 lead over the Green Bay Packers, then abandoned it and floundered as the Packers outscored them in the second half, 34-10. It was an epically poor performance, capped by a Tony “Ruh-Roh” Romo interception at the end that capped the 37-36 loss. It was bad. Historically bad.

The drama was pretty good, though. Dez Bryant walked off the field before the game was over. Coach Jason Garrett said Romo was supposed to have run with the ball.  “This will,” Fox’s Joe Buck said, “go down as one of the worst defeats in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.” Owner Jerry Jones said, “This is a bitter, bitter disappointment.” It earned a “Romo chokes in the clutch yet again” headline from the Dallas Morning News.

Particularly since stellar performances from Bryant, Romo and DeMarco Murray were ruined.

It was such a bitter end that it prompted Bryant’s early exit.

A victory would have put the 7-7 Cowboys in control of the division, but then Romo happened, as he so often does in December. His pick erased the kind of performance Jerry Jones envisioned for him in the offseason — 28 completions for 349 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys had merely to run Murray, who rushed for 134 yards.

“It’s easy to look back now and say, ‘Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball,’ but at the same time now, if they’re going to have numbers, it’s a tough situation,” Romo said. “What I have to do is do a better job of protecting the ball in that situation, and I didn’t do a good enough job of that tonight.”

At least in the NFC East, he has lots of company in his misery.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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Cindy Boren · December 15, 2013