IRVING, TEXAS – Tony Romo is pretty used to this drill by now.
Make a big mistake late to cost the Dallas Cowboys a chance to win. Say he wishes he had that throw back. Vow to be better the next time.
Now Romo and the Cowboys have to bounce back again Sunday at Washington.
If they do, they’ll get to play for the NFC East title in the finale against Philadelphia at home. If not, they could be eliminated from the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
“I think it’s good for guys to understand how we have everything in front of us,” Romo said. “Like I said before, we have to play better than we’ve played.”
And avoid another mistake from the quarterback.
The latest recovery routine was triggered by a much-discussed interception that gave Green Bay new life in a 37-36 win after the Packers trailed by 23 at halftime. Among the talking points:
Romo shouldn’t have used the bailout option to pass on the run play sent in by Bill Callahan and coach Jason Garrett.
The coaches shouldn’t have even given him a choice because running the clock was the only thing that mattered.
Romo shouldn’t have thrown the pass once he turned and saw linebacker Clay Matthews in his face.
Shouldn’t, shouldn’t, shouldn’t.
“More than anything, I can’t make that decision in that situation,” Romo said. “When you look back on one throw right now all year, you’d want that one back.”
There’s one other part of this routine that’s pretty consistent for Romo: support from his teammates despite a litany of similarly painful errors through the years.
Tight end Jason Witten has been through many more difficult times than Bryant because he came in with Romo 10 years ago. He still stands by the winning moments from Romo, and there’s evidence to back him.
Twice in a span of three games this season, Romo led flawless final drives to beat Minnesota and the New York Giants. Dallas was trailing the Vikings at home before that winning march, and the Giants had just pulled even in sub-freezing weather in New Jersey.
“Tony’s got thick skin,” Witten said. “You work through it and you get back at it and surround yourself with guys that you want to go prepare and play with and support you. That’s what he does.”
Romo is battling history on a couple of fronts against the Redskins. Besides the fresh memory of the loss to the Packers, he is visiting Washington for the first time since his late interception ended any realistic hopes for a win in a playoffs-or-bust finale almost exactly a year ago.