There's really not much point straining to find some way to argue that Sunday night's Cowboys loss wasn't Tony Romo's fault.
His fourth quarter will go down in the annals. Other quarterbacks have blown games before, but none of them have done it in anything approaching the brain-dead manner that Romo did against the Jets. It was the kind of stuff that left you just shaking your head in disbelief and even Romo understands that no one else is getting roasted for this one.
"I cost us the football game tonight," Romo said.
That said, Romo didn't act totally alone. He had help in handing away the game from a variety of sources. They were all minor players in the Shakespearen tragedy that was Romo's fourth quarter, but they deserve a mention all the same.
The offensive line was better than most people probably expected, which is less encouraging than it sounds because people thought they'd be human turnstiles. They were better than that and did have moments of strong protection, but the Cowboys lost chances to extend the lead in the first half because the offensive line couldn't stop the Jets. Things should get better with time and experience, but asking Romo to speed up the decision making process obviously isn't a very good idea.
You could throw a little blame on the secondary, although the injuries got to the point that Jerry Jones was covering Plaxico Burress in the fourth quarter. Allowing Mark Sanchez to throw for 335 yards is far from a feather in the cap no matter who is doing the covering, though, and the safety play was particularly poor on Sunday night.
It's kind of a copout to pick the two weakest parts of the team coming into the contest, though. So let's turn our attention to Jason Garrett.
When the Cowboys got the ball on the three after the long pass play to Jason Witten, there were 10 minutes left in a game that they led by a touchdown. Running the ball three times could have resulted in a touchdown and, at the very least, would have run two minutes off the clock before a field goal extended the lead. It's vanilla, conservative and boring, to be sure, but it is also the prudent thing to do on the road against a team that's been to the last two conference title games.
They don't teach that at Princeton, though, so Garrett called two passes. The first fell incomplete and the second turned into the fumble that will live in infamy. Sometimes you have to put the game in the hands of risky players and hope for the best. Garrett wasn't in that spot and he helped enable Romo on Sunday night, something that shouldn't be forgotten when the quarterback is tarred and feathered this week.
Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW Sports on Facebook, Blue Star Blog on Twitter @BlueStarBlog, or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe to this free service. Read more about it here.