Okay, so it wasn’t a playoff game. It was a Week 2 road trip against a San Francisco team that can be charitably described as “in transition.” And it was a regional telecast. So Tony Romo’s magical reappearing act Sunday won’t be the subject of an NFL Films documentary 20 years from now, especially if Romo turns around and does another gag job next week against the Skins (and he’s still perfectly capable of it). But man alive, was that needed. All of it. The win. The Holley play in overtime. The comeback by Romo. If the Cowboys go on to make the playoffs this year, you have this game to thank for the being the catalyst.
Because Sunday was the brink. Down to the Niners on the road and with Romo sidelined, you could feel this Cowboys season falling apart, just as it did last year. With the Skins, Lions and Pats all coming up in the next three weeks, the Cowboys are an 0-5 team if they lose that game. And Romo must have sensed it, which is why he came back out despite the broken ribs (and if you’ve ever had them you know how hard that is, because having broken ribs feels like a truck ran over you) and led the Cowboys to that comeback win. They shouldn’t have struggled this much against the Niners. The fact that they did makes it all the more possible that they won’t be able to match up with the likes of New England (injuries to Felix Jones and Dez Bryant don’t help).
But there were a million reasons for them to lose that game Sunday and they didn’t. And Romo (with some help from Mr. Austin) was the reason why. After that Jets game, Romo needed to show that there’s a flipside to all the collapsing and brutal chokery, that there is a reason, a very good reason, to keep him around as the franchise QB. It’s easy to forget how good Romo can be at times, to see only the bad stuff and take the better parts of his game for granted. But then there are games like this, where Romo flashes his good side and you buy into him all over again. Jon Kitna doesn’t give you that. Few QBs do, which is why Romo is still the Cowboys QB. And after what he did Sunday, he will be for a while, for better or worse.