We've all been dumping on Jason Garrett this week (rightfully so) for icing his own kicker and failing to use crucial timeouts at the end of the Cowboys stunning loss to Arizona on Sunday. But Garrett wasn't alone in committing such a heinous act of clock butchery. Mike Florio over at PFT suggests that Tony Romo deserves a lot of the blame for what went down in those final 25 seconds:
Tony Romo failed to realize that the Cowboys had two time outs remaining, after a completion on third and 11 gave Dallas a first down at the Arizona 32, with 26 seconds to play.
Instead of immediately calling for a time out, Romo rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage for a spike play. A full 19 seconds later, the clock had been stopped by the intentional incompletion.
After the game, Romo clumsily explained that he didn’t call the time out because he didn’t know whether the Cowboys had gotten a first down.
It's easy to dump on Romo given his history of butchering fourth quarters, and Garrett is still the main villain in this little episode for settling for a long field goal. But know this: whenever you see a great QB like Drew Brees run the two-minute drill, it's the QUARTERBACK who is the one usually managing the timeout situation. Drew Brees isn't looking to Sean Payton for permission to call timeout. He has Payton's permission to manage the clock as he sees fit.
There's no knowing if Romo has similar leeway with the Cowboys (I assume he does), but Sunday's debacle proved damning either way. A premier QB should have known to call timeout in that instance, and Romo didn't. And if he didn't even know how many timeouts were left on the board, then it's even worse. That's a McNabb-level brain fart, which is one rung below the Grossman-level brain fart. And if Romo needs to look to Garrett to call that timeout, then it's an indictment of Garrett's lack of faith in his own QB, something that last surfaced at the end of the Patriots game. It's just another excuse not to trust Tony Romo, even when things are going well. And after five years of this roller coaster, you can hardly blame Cowboys fans for having had enough.