The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a familiar situation – a game against an NFC East rival on the final week of the season for the right to play in the playoffs. A drastic change from last week, this time Tony Romo came up with the right play to keep the season alive, saving his team from the brink of elimination, probably saving the job of some people, especially his head coach Jason Garrett.
Despite playing against the 3-12 (after the game) Washington Redskins, it came down to Tony Romo leading the team 87 yards, most of them achieved with a 51-yard pass to Terrance Williams, and scoring the winning touchdown with 1:08 left. The season was almost over as the same turnovers and bad defense problems came to haunt the Cowboys, but they had one final play up their sleeve to keep themselves in the playoff race with the 24-23 win.
When Tony Romo found Dez Bryant for a second quarter touchdown, the Cowboys were up by 8 points (14-6), and it seemed like they were gearing themselves up to play the Eagles for playoff spot a week from that moment. However, it wasn’t going to be easy. The Cowboys opened the second half with two turnovers – one fumble by Tyler Clutts, giving the Redskins 33 yards to work with and score a touchdown; one interception from Romo, leading to another short-field touchdown for the Redskins.
Washington held on in the next drive, but the Cowboys dragged the first one in the first quarter for eight minutes, resulting in a field goal, narrowing the lead down to six. The Redskins looked bad all through the game when it came to starting drives from their own turf, as Cousins didn’t really light up the Cowboys defense, finishing with 21-of-37 for 197 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Alfred Morris, who destroyed the Cowboys last season in week 17, was halted at 88 yards on 24 carries.
And then came the Cowboys’ final drive, the winning drive. They managed to get a first and goal on the Redskins 4. First play brought them forward three yards, but the DeMarco Murray was stopped on the goalline and later for a loss of nine yards. Cowboys fans felt their season escaping, running away from them once more. But Tony Romo, visibly hurt from a previous play, has a stat no one likes to mention. It ruins the story of him being a choker, of not being clutch. Since 2006, the only quarterback with more game-winning drives in the fourth quarter than Romo is Peyton Manning.
So Romo pulled back and found DeMarco Murray for the 10 yard touchdown pass. Murray wasn’t forgotten in this game, going 22 times for 96 yards, catching three more passes for 15 yards, scoring a touchdown that will only mean anything in the Cowboys win against the Eagles next week. For now, it simply provides a 7-day lifeline.
Tony Romo – I know in some ways we’ve gotten hit with just the fact of losing the last couple of years in the final game. I think we’re the only team that keeps getting themselves in position to win the NFC East every year — that’s a credit. It’s also a negative in the fact that we didn’t do it the last couple of years.