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Romo Delivers Clutch Performance Again in Win over Rival Redskins

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Chris Kent

The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys have been one of the National Football League’s best rivalries for decades. In fact, some pro football pundits might rank the matchup as the second best rivalry in the game behind the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, who just met for the 183rd time on Sunday. Regardless of ranking, there is no doubt that the Redskins and Cowboys battle each other harder than any other opponent they play, just like any rivalry. Even when the scoring might not be much to talk about.

Such was the case on Monday when the two teams played each other to

Dallas rookie kicker Dan Bailey boots one of his six field goals in a win over Washington on Monday night (Matthew Emmons/US Presswire).

another dramatic finish, a mark of the longstanding series, especially in recent years. Including Monday, nine of the 13 games since 2005 have been decided by seven points or less. In the process, the games have been decided in the late stages of the fourth quarter and even within the last two minutes.

Monday night was more of the same. With Tony Romo ailing due to a broken rib and rendered ineffective for much of the game, Dallas escaped with an 18-16 win over Washington in its’ home opener at Cowboys Stadium. Rookie kicker Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:52 left to provide the final margin. Bailey accounted for all of Dallas’ points on the night by going 6-for-6 which tied a Cowboys’ rookie record for most field games made in a game. Romo finished 22-for-36 for 255 yards and had one interception.

While the game lacked touchdowns and big play offense, it was still a back-and-forth game. Both offenses stalled in the first half as the two teams split six field goals for a 9-9 halftime tie. Romo took several hits in the first half alone which tested his threshold of pain. While his punctured lung from a week ago had mostly healed, he had to take two pain-killing injections for the rib to get through the game. Once again Romo’s toughness and perseverance showed when it mattered most.

In the span of two weeks, Romo has gone from goat on the young season, to a successful clutch performer for America’s Team. After opening the season with a fourth quarter meltdown against the Jets in New York, where his fumble and interception aided the Jets comeback victory, Romo has come nearly full circle.

Romo’s performance in rallying Dallas from a 24-14 fourth-quarter deficit at San Francisco last week with a broken rib and a punctured lung followed by last nights’ gutty performance have cast Romo in a new and better light than in the past. That of a leader who is determined and focused. Up until now, Romo is best known for botching the hold of a snap on a possible game-winning field goal attempt in a playoff loss at Seattle following the 2006 season. Yet, Romo could still use an entire season of success to stake his claim to being an upper-echelon NFL quarterback. The season is still young.

As are the Cowboys, especially on the offensive line. Right tackle Tyron Smith, left guard Bill Nagy, and center Phil Costa are all rookies or second-year players with all three in their first year as starters. That unit is still a work in progress and needs time to become cohesive. Gone from the front wall is five-time pro-bowl center Andre Gurode who was released in training camp.

Tony Romo surveys the field before taking a snap on Monday night against Washington (Tim Heitman/US Presswire).

Beside being sacked six times through the first three games, Romo has been hit and knocked around more than any quarterback would like. Thus the offensive line is going to have to improve, especially with Romo still nursing his broken rib.

While the injury slowed him and restricted his mobility on Monday, he still showed his physical toughness in playing the whole game. Maybe more importantly is the mental toughness that he displayed in keeping his head in the game.

Several wild snaps occurred that resulted in loose balls leaving Romo in poor positions. There were also instances of miscommunication where receivers did not line up properly or ran incorrect routes. While Romo got frustrated with these plays, he also took it upon himself to correct his teammates by getting sternly in their face on the field as well as on the sidelines.

Where in the past Romo would react to these situations by forcing throws or making bad decisions, he is showing more smarts and also assertiveness in not making the critical mistakes. A sure sign he is developing in a positive direction. All amidst injury and pain. Now the challenge is to maintain this for the course of a full season.

Perhaps at no other time on Monday was Romo tested than late in the fourth

Tony Romo acknowledges the home fans after leading Dallas to a come-from behind victory over Washington on Monday Night Football (Tony Gutierrez/AP).

quarter. With the game on the line and trailing 16-15, Dallas faced a third and 21 from its’ own 30-yard line with 2:20 left to play. Taking the snap from the shotgun, Romo rolled out to avoid the rush and buy some extra time. Along the way, he motioned to Dez Bryant to make a move and adjust his route. Romo completed a 30-yard pass to Bryant on a middle post.

In the process of tackling Bryant, Redskins’ defensive back DeAngelo Hall drew a facemask penalty which added 15 yards to the end of the play pushing the ball from Washington’s 40-yard line to their 25. Four plays later, Bailey kicked what proved to be the winning field goal.

For the second straight week Romo had led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind victory while enduring pain. It wasn’t pretty nor easy. However Dallas will take it. Especially when it comes against your arch rival in your home opener.

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