WASHINGTON – I hope Christopher Nolan likes NFL football. Because in Dallas, there’s a psychological thriller just begging to be made into a Hollywood film.
The plot is old hat for Cowboys fans now: Tony Romo plays great. He’s outdueling a quarterback better than him, has his team in firm position to beat a team better than his and all he has to do is not screw it up.
And then he screws it up.
For what feels like the millionth time, Romo snatched defeat from the clutches of victory with a late interception against Denver on Sunday, and has again prompted the football masses to wonder aloud if he’s anywhere near as good as he’s billed.
This game was a microcosm of Romo’s entire career to date. For 58 minutes, he played what had to be the game of his life. He was sacked four times but Houdini-ed his way out of about four or five more. He ended the day with a career-best 506 yards and five TDs, and outgunned Peyton Manning for most of the day. Then with about two minutes to go, he inexplicably throws into triple coverage with the score tied and essentially hands the game to the Broncos.
Part of me thinks Romo gets a raw deal. He holds more Cowboys passing records than most people realize (which means something in Dallas, given his predecessors include Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman) and is statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the game on an annual basis.
Which leads to the other part of me (the smarter side): There’s something to be said for coming up big in the clutch –which Romo rarely does. From botching the hold of a potential game-winning field goal in Seattle to the Jets game in 2011 to the Redskins game to end 2012, Romo has a long history of killing his team with the untimely interception — even if his pick totals aren’t particularly offensive.
In perhaps the biggest indictment of his tenure in Dallas, Romo has just one playoff win to his credit and the fact that he hasn’t even been in the playoffs for three years running is a huge embarrassment for the self-proclaimed “America’s Team.” In a world where Christian Ponder can get a team to the postseason and Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl, a man with Romo’s talent should have at least taken a team to the NFC title game by now.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m generally not of the belief that quarterbacks win or lose by themselves. But they are the most important player on the field, and the elite ones can compensate for whatever else is lacking on a team. Romo is far from the biggest problem in Big D, but he’s definitely not the solution.
It may be a little strong to call him a choker, but he’s definitely got a gag reflex. At 33 years old, he’s not going to get any better. What you see is what you get: a tantalizing talent that leaves you wildly disappointed in the end.
Unless, of course, you’re a Redskins, Giants or Eagles fan.
And now for something that rarely disappoints — this week’s NFL recap:
Bills 24 Browns 37
Until Romo’s virtuoso/stinker, I was prepared to open this week’s recap with Cleveland’s inexplicable turnaround. The Browns scored in all three phases of the game Thursday night, and they’re putting up 28 points per game and outscoring opponents by nearly 10 points since the Trent Richardson trade. I’m interested to see if this continues now that Brian Hoyer is out for the year.
Ravens 26 Dolphins 23
Ok, I just have to ask … has anyone actually seen Joe Flacco and Eli Manning in the same place at the same time? I mean, are we sure they’re not the same guy?
Saints 26 Bears 18
Drew Brees was held under 300 yards for the first time in nine games, but he completed almost 83 percent of his passes in another Saints win. The defense got gashed by Alshon Jeffery for 218 yards, but it still looks like another great season is brewing in New Orleans.
Eagles 36 Giants 21
It’s so bad for New York, we’re actually hunting for potential wins on the upcoming schedule. No way they win in Chicago on a short week, so that’s 0-6. They have an extra-long week before playing Minnesota (at home on “Monday Night Football”) and then go to Philly before the Giants’ Week 9 bye. If they can’t get a win in either of those, I’m not sure Tom Coughlin is coaching them when they come out of the bye.
Oh yeah … if you took the under for the annual Mike Vick injury at Week 6, then be sure to collect your money at the window.
Patriots 6 Bengals 13
In case you haven’t heard, Cincinnati’s defense ended Tom Brady’s streak of 52 consecutive games with a TD pass. And the Bengals forced Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger into bad games. Yet they lost to Brian Hoyer and Jay Cutler. I’m done trying to figure the Bengals out. DONE.
Lions 9 Packers 22
This much is true: Without Megatron, there is no “Revenge of the Fallen” for Detroit. They’re just “The Fallen Who Can’t Get Up.”
Chiefs 26 Titans 17
I’m bummed we have to wait until Nov. 17 to see the KC/Denver game … they might be the two best teams in the AFC right now.
Seahawks 28 Colts 34
In two of the last three weeks, Indy has managed to dominate the 49ers in San Francisco and beat previously undefeated Seattle, the team I still think is the best in the NFL. The Colts definitely look like the best team in the AFC South, and perhaps one of the top three in the entire conference.
My mother told me if I don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. So here’s my take on this game:
Broncos 51 Cowboys 48
Easily the Game of the Year. If you missed it live, then watch it on NFL Network this week. You’ll be glad you did.
Texans 3 Niners 34
Matt Schaub is the first QB since the AFL/NFL merger to throw an interception return for a TD in four consecutive games. Unless T.J. Yates is Trent Dilfer 2.0, I have a hard time seeing the Texans coming within shouting distance of my lofty expectations for them.
Chargers 17 Raiders 27
On the East Coast, this technically counted as “Monday Morning Football.” Don’t be surprised if this becomes a reality before the 18-game season.
Jets 30 Falcons 28
It’s over for Atlanta. They’re too old, too hurt and too far behind New Orleans for anything good to happen for them this season.