Cowboys Playoff Hopes On Life-Support After Romo Goes Down During Thanksgiving Loss To Carolina
An apocalyptic crack was heard ‘round the world on Thursday evening in Arlington, sending the delusional fan into reverential despair. What was a highly-anticipated Thanksgiving showdown between the hometown Dallas Cowboys and the unbeaten Carolina Panthers had devolved into something far worse than a mere Turkey Day bludgeoning.
In a matter of one play, of one innocent tackle in the backfield, the Cowboys saw their status change from stuffed turkey to that of the broken turkey. Tony Romo, the long acknowledged savior of the Cowboys from his quarterback position, was fallen upon by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on the final play of the third quarter. When Romo, instead of rising to his feet, lay on the ground clutching at his left collarbone, a fate long in the making was finally sealed. The game, already a 30-6 blowout in favor of Carolina, was declared a no-contest. Dallas’ season was buried right along with it.
The playoff hopes of the 2015 Cowboys are as broken as Romo’s newly-fractured collarbone. Sitting at 3-8, they are 2.5 games behind the division-leading New York Giants with only five games remaining. That they are now faced with the task of making up that deficit in the standings with a backup quarterback who has lost all four of his starts this season is simply a declaration of what we should have suspected long ago. Be it by curse or by simply a stroke of the rottenest luck, the postseason has never been a part of these Cowboys’ future.
The Cowboys had a chance to make a statement against Carolina. Coming off a strong victory in Miami only four days earlier in Romo’s return, many thought they would. Vegas even had Dallas as a one-point favorite.
But it didn’t take but a handful of plays for the Cowboys to start acting their record. Romo was intercepted on just his second pass attempt of the day, and could only watch as Kurt Coleman traveled cross-country for a Carolina touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Romo was picked by linebacker Luke Kuechly, a mistake that resulted in yet another scoring return. By halftime, Romo had tossed three interceptions, and the Cowboys – owners of 98 total yards – were trailing on the scoreboard by a 23-3 margin.
Romo’s unfortunate fall to conclude a very unproductive third-period was merely adding injury to insult from Carolina, the defining moment of a 33-14 defeat.
“I’m disappointed in costing our team a chance to stay in the game early,” a very subdued Romo said after the game. “And then on top of it, who knows how long [for recovery] after that. It’s just a very disappointing day.”
There will be those in the coming days who will say that Romo’s fractured collarbone was never completely healed from his Week 2 injury, and therefore should never have been on the field. Such talk is only speculation, which about sums up the Cowboys’ chances in the NFC playoff race.
Mathematically, there is still a glimmer of hope. If Washington can beat the Giants on Sunday at FedEx Field, then that would draw the two teams into a tie atop the division with a mark of 5-6, leaving Dallas two games behind with two tussles against those same Redskins looming down the stretch. If the Giants happen to beat Washington, then it would be expedient for those in the Metroplex area to make early vacation plans, with an emphasis on ending this holiday season far better than it started.