|It seems like the best way to beat Tony Romo these days is to wait for him to make mistakes. (AP)|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Another season, another game, another quarter, another big moment, another test and, again, Tony Romo sticks his finger down his throat and gags.
We've seen this movie before, Cowboy. Just when you think Dallas will be good. Or claim a foothold onto something other than mediocrity and stadium naming rights. Or do something special.
They have a game like this. A frustrating, headshaking, ugly loss like this, in a game that was theirs for the taking.
This might seem harsh because it is, after all, only the first game of the season, but Romo has run out of lives and excuses, and he has had more than his fair share. A cat looks at Romo and says: I heart you.
Somewhere, Wade Phillips, the last scapegoat, is laughing his ass off.
The game, won by the Jets thanks to a late Romo interception that was gift wrapped and sent directly into the sternum of Darrelle Revis, sealing New York's 27-24 victory, was lost by Romo. Plain and simple.
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Let's not hear about wrong routes or pass-rush pressure or any other such nonsense. It's time for the protective force field around Romo to be permanently removed. This was all on him.
The season opened spectacularly in Green Bay with offensive fireworks, and the first Sunday ended outside New York with solemn recollections but just as thrilling a football game. Indeed, this week will be remembered as one of the best opening weeks the league has ever seen.
In some ways, nothing says NFL Sundays are back like Romo throwing a critical pick.
And remember this New York defensive call: "jet-mike-mix." It was a play designed to fool Romo into thinking there was single coverage, when, in fact, Revis had help over the top from safety Brodney Pool. This allowed Revis to be more aggressive. Nothing is more dangerous than a predator like Revis given total freedom.
Sure, Romo was fooled by the defense, but it was nonetheless a highly dubious decision. The score was tied at 24 with 59 seconds remaining.
"Dez was coming back on the outside," Romo said. "A comeback tuck route -- the coverage dictated it. He was right with what he did. He kept going on it. It was a dumb decision, too reactionary. I should have made sure. That was my fault. It's just disappointing and frustrating right now because we win that football game if I don't do what I did. It's hard to swallow just knowing that we lost this game because of me tonight."
Have the greats made bad plays in crunch time? Sure. But, again -- Romo does this all the time. It's like breathing for him. Inhale, interception. Exhale, bad fumble.
|The Cowboys wasted a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, which is what everyone will remember. But considering everything they endured from an injury standpoint, losing this game the way they did wasn't so unexpected. Obviously there is disappointment with the outcome, but overall it was an impressive performance from top to bottom.|
|By Nick Eatman|
|New York Jets|
|The Jets offense couldn't get anything going. Their pass rush wasn't able to get any traction. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie struggled against the Cowboys' receivers. Special teams ultimately saved the day with a blocked punt by Joe McKnight that was returned for a TD by Isaiah Trufant to tie the score and then a 50-yard field goal by Nick Folk.|
|By Lisa Zimmerman|
Jets coach Rex Ryan attempted to say how well Romo played and was almost comical in his praising, and Romo did have statistical success -- he finished with 343 yards, two scores and a 101.9 passer rating. But one of the reasons why the Cowboys have a single playoff victory since the Pleistocene Age is because of Romo's carelessness with the football in big spots.
Teams know Romo is going to give it up. They just wait patiently while steadily applying pressure understanding that, like an autumn wind, a fumble or pick will come.
"Romo was so hot he thought he was Y.A. Tittle back there," said Ryan, again attempting to compliment Romo. Not sure how Ryan could do that with a straight face when he knows Romo handed the Jets a victory.
The Jets' final three drives: a lost fumble, a punt, and a 2-yard drive. Boy, that's efficiency, and still they won. What does that tell you?
The interception wasn't the only Romo screwup. Dallas had a chance to take a two-touchdown lead midway through the fourth quarter when Romo made two plays that have typified his career.
He threw a deep pass so pretty and accurate to tight end Jason Witten that only a handful of quarterbacks in football could make. That's the good Tony.
So, at that point, it's 24-17 Dallas, the football is at the Jets 2-yard line, and there are only nine minutes remaining in the contest. One score -- one -- probably wins it.
Three plays later, Romo scrambled up the middle, lost the football, and it was recovered by the Jets.
If he doesn't fumble, the postgame narrative is completely different. We might be talking about how this was the beginning of a new Romo instead of what will be discussed now, which is the same old Tony.
Romo has always been a standup guy, and that was no different following the game when he met with the media. You can always appreciate that about him. He's as good a guy as it gets.
Unfortunately that doesn't mean much in today's NFL, and especially with Romo, who has done the self-Heimlich over and over and over.
And, once again, another season, another game, another quarter, another big moment, and another test, the other team awards Romo its game ball.