Cowboys’ Romo has surgery, out for Eagles finale

Tony Romo’s season is over, and the Dallas Cowboys will have to

win without their star quarterback in a third straight

playoffs-or-bust finale.

Coach Jason Garrett said Romo had back surgery Friday, and Kyle

Orton will start when Dallas faces Philadelphia on Sunday night

with the NFC East title and a postseason berth on the line.

Garrett said Romo underwent treatment all week in hopes of

playing after injuring his back in a season-saving 24-23 victory

against Washington. The winning touchdown came after the injury on

Romo’s fourth-down pass to DeMarco Murray in the final 2

minutes.

Romo hurt himself when he tripped over his foot while trying to

escape pressure earlier in the fourth quarter.

”He might have had his finest hour against the Redskins last

week, what he did at the end of that ballgame under the

circumstances,” Garrett said. ”Pretty special.”

Romo lost the past two winner-take-all finales – to the New York

Giants two years ago and Washington last season. He also lost to

the Eagles in the same situation in 2008 and now will miss a chance

to improve his 1-6 record in elimination games.

”He’s devastated,” Garrett said. ”Devastated. He puts a lot

into this.”

Philadelphia (9-6) is trying to complete a worst-to-first

turnaround from a 4-12 season under first-year coach Chip Kelly.

The Cowboys (8-7) want to end a three-year playoff drought and

avoid a third 8-8 finish in Garrett’s three full seasons as

coach.

Dallas will have to do it without its defensive leader, too.

Linebacker Sean Lee will miss his third straight game with a

sprained neck. He’ll wind up sidelined for five of the last six

regular-season games. He was out for two with a hamstring

injury.

Lee was forced to watch last year’s season-ending loss to the

Redskins with a toe injury sustained in the sixth game.

”You have this picture of how the season is going to go and two

years in a row, it doesn’t go the right way from a personal

standpoint, from a physical standpoint,” Lee said. ”I’m just

trying to stay positive, trying to help out any way I can, but I

hate not being on the football field.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show that the team

and Romo hoped an injection would ease the pain enough to allow him

to play. But his condition didn’t improve, and Jones said doctors

advised it was better not to wait for surgery.

Jones said the hope is that Romo will be ready for offseason

practices in May.

Romo missed all the offseason workouts this year after surgery

to remove a cyst from his back in April. Garrett and Jones said the

latest injury is not related, but wouldn’t be more specific about

Friday’s procedure.

News of the second back surgery comes nine months after Romo

signed a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million

guaranteed.

”He played very well coming off the first procedure he had in

the spring,” Garrett said. ”We are completely confident he’s

going to rehab and come back 100 percent.”

Orton, who declined to talk to reporters Friday, will make his

first start since the finale in 2011, when he finished the season

in Kansas City after getting replaced by Tim Tebow in Denver. He’s

appeared in three games and thrown just 15 passes in two seasons as

Romo’s backup.

”We’ve been operating as if Kyle Orton is going to be our

starting quarterback,” Garrett said. ”At the same time we were

trying to do whatever we could to see if we could help Tony and get

him back as quickly as possible. We just felt like this was the

best course of action.”

Notes: DE DeMarcus Ware missed practice because of an elbow

injury but told reporters he is playing. He’s listed as

questionable. … WR/KR Dwayne Harris and CB Morris Claiborne are

set to return from hamstring injuries. Both are probable. Harris

missed three of the past four games, and Claiborne missed six of

seven. … LB Ernie Sims is doubtful with a groin injury.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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