Tony Romo took a lot of heat for being turnover-prone, injury-prone and unable to win games when it counts. With just two career postseason wins, he never took the Cowboys to the promised land or sniffed the big game, but that was often the result of his surrounding cast being underwhelming, not his shortcomings as a quarterback.
Regardless of whether you consider him a great quarterback or one who never met expectations, Romo will go down as one of the best to ever wear the star. He had his lows in Dallas, but there were more great moments than there were terrible ones.
Having been the starter for four years, it was time for Romo to prove he could win when it mattered. He had lost his first two postseason games, and with the Eagles coming to town, Romo was facing endless questions about his place as a top quarterback.
All he did was go out and dominate, leading the Cowboys to a 34-14 victory behind 244 yards and two touchdowns. Although the Cowboys would lose the following week, the victory over the Eagles did wonders for Romo’s legacy. It was a bit of a sigh of relief.
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Turning 35-yard loss into a first down after bad snap (2007)
With the Cowboys and Rams tied at 7 and just under a minute to play in the first half, Romo watched an errant snap sail over his head. Way over his head. The ball, after being kicked by Romo, wound up 35 yards behind the line of scrimmage, looking like it was sure to be a massive loss of yardage. Romo corralled it, evaded three would-be tacklers and ran all the way across midfield to pick up the first down. It was one of the most impressive plays of his young career and epitomized his mobility in the backfield.
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Spin move to avoid J.J. Watt (2014)
This was just classic Romo.
With the Cowboys trailing the Texans 7-3, Romo looked to be dead in the water with Watt bearing down on him on the star at midfield. It’s a sack Watt makes 99 out of 100 times, but Romo somehow escaped the arm-tackle, spun away from No. 99 and launched a pass 52 yards downfield to Terrance Williams, who hauled it in for an incredible touchdown.
It’s the type of play you’ll see on Romo’s highlight reel repeatedly when it’s all said and done.
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Playoff win over the Lions (2014)
Romo was facing questions about his ability to win in the playoffs, having won just a single postseason game up to this point. The Cowboys appeared to be poised for another letdown in the playoffs, facing a fourth-and-6 with just six minutes to play, trailing 20-17.
Romo hit Jason Witten to move the chains, eventually setting up a game-winning touchdown pass to Terrance Williams. It was a bit of a monkey off of Romo’s back, giving him a second career postseason win. It also eliminated any questions about whether he could perform in the clutch, silencing critics everywhere.
Overcoming five interceptions to beat the Bills (2007)
Romo was just a young, gun-slinging quarterback at this time, and it showed in the box score. Against the Bills on Monday Night Football, he threw five interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns – and lost a fumble, accounting for six turnovers. For most quarterbacks, that’s a recipe for disaster, but Romo was able to overcome it somehow.
He shook off all of it to lead the Cowboys to a remarkable 25-24 win in the final seconds after tight end Tony Curtis recovered a miraculous onside kick to give Romo the ball one more time. That came after Terrell Owens had the ball ripped from his hands on a two-point conversion attempt, which would have tied the game. Nick Folk’s game-winner as time expired sealed the remarkable comeback, capping off a nine-point fury by Dallas in a matter of 20 seconds.
Romo finished with 309 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions, but the only thing that mattered was the victory.
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Shootout loss vs. Broncos (2013)
There are shootouts, and then there’s what Romo and Peyton Manning did. The two quarterbacks went back and forth, exchanging blows for 60 minutes as the Broncos eked out a win over the Cowboys, 51-48.
Romo actually outplayed Manning in this one despite not getting the win, throwing for five touchdowns, 506 yards and just one interception. That one interception, though, doomed the Cowboys as it set up Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
By looking at the box score and the result, you wouldn’t think of this as one of Romo’s best moments with the Cowboys. However, considering how bad Dallas’ defense was and what he was up against, it was truly one of his best performances ever.
A historic Thanksgiving (2006)
In his fifth career start, all eyes were on Romo. It was Thanksgiving Day with the Cowboys sitting at 6-4 and needing a win over the Buccaneers at home. To start the game, he looked shaky, misfiring on a handful of throws.
He would quickly get it back on track and put together an historic day for the Cowboys. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns, tying a franchise record. He didn’t throw a single interception as the Cowboys routed the Buccaneers 38-10. It was Romo’s third straight win, leading Dallas to a 4-1 record in his first five starts.
First career start (2006)
After replacing Drew Bledsoe in Week 7 against the Giants, Romo never looked back. Bill Parcells named him the starter for the following week for a Sunday night game against the Panthers. With all eyes on him, Romo put on a show.
He completed 24 of 36 passes for 270 yards, one touchdown and a pick, leading the Cowboys to a resounding 35-14 win. For a guy who had been on the bench for three-plus seasons, it was a good way to begin his career as the starting quarterback for the most decorated franchise in NFL history.
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Comeback vs. 49ers with a punctured lung, broken rib (2011)
Romo put together one of his best comebacks to date. With the Cowboys trailing 24-14 against the 49ers, Romo led them all the way back after missing most of the third quarter due to injury. When he emerged from the locker room, he still wasn’t healthy. But he persevered and played through what was later discovered to be a broken rib and punctured lung.
Romo completed 20 of 33 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in the game, leading the Cowboys to a 27-24 victory in overtime. Dallas looked to be doomed when it fell behind by 10 points, but Romo’s heroics saved the day. He threw for 201 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime alone, largely thanks to his 77-yard bomb to Jesse Holley, which set up Dan Bailey’s game-winner.
Passing Troy Aikman as the franchise's all-time passing leader (2014)
Romo doesn’t get much credit for being one of the all-time greats statistically, but numbers suggest he’s arguably the best quarterback the Cowboys have ever seen. On Dec. 21, 2014, he solidified his place in history when he passed Troy Aikman as the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards. It came on a 25-yard touchdown pass to -- who else? -- Jason Witten, giving him 32,961 yards in his career. Romo would obviously add to that total, currently sitting at 34,183 yards.
His performance in that game against the Colts was remarkable, too. He completed 18 of 20 passes for 218 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, posting his best passer rating ever at 151.7.