Tony Romo is used to pressure being placed on his shoulders. He may not be as used to its being placed on his back. That surgically repaired part of his body may determine whether the Cowboys can survive the upcoming schedule grind to make a playoff run.
Currently, Romo has two fractured bones in his back that have made it nearly impossible for him to do simple tasks such as tying his shoes. Logic says that the Cowboys should let him take some time to heal, so he can be ready for that final December playoff push. But Dallas owner Jerry Jones doesn’t subscribe to normal logic.
It’s not that the Cowboys didn’t try to give the franchise quarterback some rest. Three weeks ago, Romo sat out during a game with the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals. Backup quarterback Brandon Weeden made them regret that decision. Now the oft-criticized Romo will deal with a different kind of burden — the pressure to stay upright and play through immense pain.
The Weeden disaster showed everyone that despite the top-notch running game and offensive line, Dallas needs Tony Romo to be a playoff contender. He is enjoying the most effective season of his career (his highest quarterback rating to date and second-highest completion percentage, just to name a couple of key stats). He can make a team regret committing too many players to stop DeMarco Murray and the Dallas ground game.
Therefore, instead of getting much-needed healing time, Romo found himself on a plane to London to play Jacksonville despite his injury. Luckily, he survived that trip across the pond and then had a bye week to help with the healing.
Now the grind has arrived, and it starts with a nasty trifecta, as the Cowboys have to play three games in fewer than two weeks, including trips to the frozen lands of New York and Chicago, plus a Thanksgiving showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles for a shot at the division title.
Romo’s back is still hurting. Dallas’ opponents know it’s hurting, which means they will be sending players at the Cowboys quarterback from all angles in an effort to take his mind off the game. The good news is that Romo has become very adept at making teams pay for blitzing him too much by hitting receivers for big plays. The bad news is that it takes only one big shot to his back to sink the Cowboys season.
Tony Romo has more help than he’s ever had before in his quest for a Super Bowl run. But he and his ailing back are still the foundation to this team’s success.