|Romo left to explain both a trip and an offseason that will be longer than planned|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 22:46|
But, really, what's a girl to do? Long drives can just be so boring.
Not terribly effective, either, as Tony Romo and the Cowboys found out Sunday when they extended their streak in playoff futility to 11 years in a loss so hard to take that even the popcorn man himself, Terrell Owens, was reduced to tears.
In truth, no one knew where Simpson was, though there was no shortage of blonde women in No. 9 jerseys in Texas Stadium. But most in the white-wearing crowd of 63,660 no doubt thought she had sneaked back into a suite and put yet another hex on her boyfriend during an especially futile fourth quarter for the celebrity-squiring quarterback.
As steady as could be when the game plan called for controlling the ball, Romo was equally shaky when he was forced to bring the Cowboys from behind. And when Romo's last pass went into the hands of New York's R.W. McQuarters in the end zone, the worst fears of Cowboys fans upset over his vacation with Simpson to Cabo seemed to come true.
All week long, the talk around town was that Romo should have never left town, especially with the celebrity wannabe whose presence in this very same stadium a few games earlier coincided with one of the quarterback's worst performances of the year. Fans worried that Romo wasn't focused, and worried more that Yoko Romo would interfere with their chance to finally celebrate.
In Romo's defense, he wasn't helped by a ball dropped by Anthony Fasano on the goal line and two other drops by Patrick Crayton in crucial moments. He didn't have a lot to do with the penalties that hurt the Cowboys late, save for an intentional grounding call on the second-to-last drive.
And he wasn't on the field playing defense when the Giants scored in just 46 seconds after Dallas had taken a 14-7 lead with a 20-play drive that chewed up more than a sixth of the game.
``This is not about Tony,'' Owens said, his lower lip quivering and sniffling away tears in a passionate defense of his quarterback. ``You guys can point the finger at him. You can talk about the vacation, but if you do that it's really unfair. It's really unfair. He's my teammate. He's my quarterback. If you guys do that, it's unfair. We lost as a team. We lost as a team, man.''
Indeed, Owens was so passionate in the defense of his quarterback that he probably will be the first invited to the season-ending barbecue that Romo and Simpson will now have plenty of time to plan.
R wasn't such a bad thing after all.
``I'm content in my own skin. I feel like I'm doing it the right way,'' Romo said. ``When I made the choice to those things I thought I was making good decisions like not going to Vegas and drinking for two or three days.''
Romo's decisions looked good for much of the game as he took the Cowboys on two first-half touchdown drives of 96 and 90 yards, only to go to the locker room at halftime tied 14-14. With Marion Barber gaining yards in big chunks, Romo hitting short passes, and the Cowboys keeping the ball away from the Giants it seemed like only a matter of time before the New York defense simply wilted on the field.
That didn't happen, though, even after the Cowboys held the ball for more than half of the third quarter before settling for a field goal that gave them their last lead. The Giants only had the ball a combined 6:20 on their scoring drives, but it was enough to hang on to a 21-17 win.
And when Romo was forced to try long passes and big plays in the fourth quarter against a re-energized Giants defensive front, he was only able to complete six of 15 passes for 81 yards.
Romo's trip to Cabo was certain to be second-guessed now, despite support for it both from Owens and the head Cowboy himself. Jerry Jones somehow managed to find time from selling trucks, pizza and Pepsi on TV to put on his extra-large hat as Cowboys owner, president, general manager, and part-time team physician to give his blessing.
With good reason, because the only thing Romo did other than frighten Cowboys fans with his romantic fling was give people even more reason to watch Dallas and buy more No. 9 jerseys to wear while they read People magazine.
``The facts are I like it, you're absolutely right,'' Jones said before the game. ``All of that sizzle, extra interest, really adds to what the Cowboys are all about.''
Image, of course, sells, but the reality for the Cowboys is they haven't won a playoff game since Romo was a sophomore in high school. They had a team that was at one point 12-1 this season and they lost at home to a team they had beaten twice before.
Now they face an offseason that will last longer than planned, and have to get over a loss even Jones can't sugarcoat. And even the prospect of going home to Simpson didn't help lift the disconsolate Romo's spirits.
``It hurts,'' he said. ``When you don't come through, especially in the quarterback position, it's really a tough pill to swallow.''
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org