December 26, 2012

Talk of Tony Romo Legacy Adds Intrigue to Dallas Cowboys’ Regular Season Finale

Talk of Tony Romo Legacy Adds Intrigue to Dallas Cowboys’ Regular Season Finale DALLAS COWBOYS NO COMMENTS EDIT Bookmark and Share

By Matthew Postins

Dallas Cowboys logoThis was the rare NFL year in which NFL teams didn’t have to re-jigger their schedules due to the holiday. Christmas Day fell on a Tuesday, which is the NFL’s mandated off day. Chances are players and coaches for the Dallas Cowboys spent the day with their families.

Hopefully Tony Romo didn’t turn on ESPN while he and his wife were opening gifts Tuesday morning.

When talk moved to the NFL the talk turned to the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Redskins game on Sunday night, the one winner-take-all contest on the schedule. The talk centered around Romo’s legacy.

The consensus? Romo had to win on Sunday to change the perception that he isn’t a big-game quarterback.

I suppose there’s an element of truth to that statement. One must admit that Romo’s record in these types of games is checkered, at best. While we laud Romo’s passing statistics in November and December – and they’re quite good – his overall record as a starting quarterback in Week 17 is 1-4.

Two of those Week 17 contests mattered. In 2008 the Cowboys needed to beat the Philadelphia Eagles to make the playoffs. Last year the Cowboys needed to beat the New York Giants to win the NFC East and make the playoffs.

The Cowboys cratered both times. Last year against the Giants they lost, 31-14. Thing is, Romo had a solid night, completing 78 percent of his passes, throwing for nearly 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with an interception.

The loss to Philly in 2008 was far worse. The Cowboys lost, 44-6, with Romo completing barely 50 percent of his passes, throwing for less than 200 yards and throwing one interception. You might remember that as the game where Romo told the media that “if that loss was the worst thing that happened to him then he’s led a pretty good life” or something to that effect.

So perhaps that represents progress?

Romo is in the midst of what could be considered the best stretch of his career. In his last seven games Romo has thrown for 2,291 yards, 16 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. During that stretch the Cowboys are 5-2.

Of course, Romo was rolling last year too. In his final eight games he threw for nearly 2,000 yards, 18 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Cowboys lost four of their final five games to miss the playoffs.

This year the Cowboys have won five of their last seven.

So perhaps that represents progress?

Romo’s legacy as a quarterback will not culminate on Sunday night. It makes for nice talk and when you have a 24-hour sports news station, you need something to talk about.

But the thing that national pundits miss is that winning or losing in Week 17 – which admittedly the Cowboys have been horrible at the last dozen years – isn’t the legacy the locals care about.

What the locals care about is what happens in January.

Roger Staubach is 11-6 and has two Super Bowl rings.

Troy Aikman is 11-4 and has three Super Bowl rings.

Danny White is 5-5 and took the Cowboys to three straight NFC title games.

Romo and Don Meredith have the same playoff record – 1-3. The difference is Meredith took the Cowboys to two straight NFL championship games against the Green Bay Packers. Romo hasn’t even been out of the divisional round.

So talk about Romo’s legacy all you want this week. It hardly matters, at least around here. If the Cowboys do beat the Redskins on Sunday, the needle will simply move. The chatter will go from “can Romo get the Cowboys to the playoffs” to “can Romo win a playoff game?” That’s how it is around here and that’s how it is in the NFL.

Until Romo puts together a run that takes these Cowboys to uncharted territory in the post-Jimmy Johnson era, that question will always exist.

One last thing about legacies. They shouldn’t be written until an athlete’s career is complete. For much of his career John Elway was perceived as a great quarterback who couldn’t win on the NFL’s ultimate state. Then he ended his career with two straight Super Bowl wins and that perception changed.

This isn’t to say that Romo is Elway. It’s just to say that judging Romo’s legacy when he has several productive years ahead of him isn’t smart.

Of course, just two months ago we were talking about how next year might Romo’s last year in Dallas. Now we’re talking about his legacy.

So perhaps that represents progress?

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