Cowboys: Romo Awful And Injured Against Panthers


87. 14. 123. Final. 33

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was awful during Thanksgiving Day’s meeting with the Carolina Panthers, but another collarbone injury may have sealed 2015 for good.

A Week 12 meeting between the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium seemed destined to become a defining moment for America’s Team coming in. The Cowboys had no margin for error, having just broken a seven-game losing streak with starting quarterback Tony Romo just back from a broken collarbone suffered all the way back on Week 2.

Exactly ten weeks later, it’s déjà vu for Romo and the Cowboys.

For those who thought that Romo could save this season of injuries, setbacks and misfortunes, think again.

On Thursday, Romo was far more capable of officially killing the lights on this season than he was saving it – and Romo wasted almost no time in putting a 10-0 Panthers team in complete control of this contest.

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Carolina safety Kurt Coleman intercepted Romo on the third play of the game and returned it 36 yards for an immediate touchdown that sent an anxious Dallas crowd into a state of shock and panic before many could even find their seats.

As a first half of completely pedestrian offense on the part of the Cowboys neared the half, Romo fired interception No.2 to linebacker Luke Kuechly, who returned that Dallas mistake 32 yards for Carolina’s only other first half touchdown and a 20-3 lead still just outside two minutes left in the second quarter.

But wait – Romo wasn’t quite done.

After all special teams obligations were complete following that sequence, the Cowboys took the ball once again with 2:36 left in the half, the ball at their own 20 yard line.

Interception No.3 came next – Kuechly again – and then an eventual field goal for Carolina and a 23-3 lead, and one that was more than enough to win this game.

Romo led the Dallas offense to a meager 98 yards of total offense in a first half that offered little evidence that it was actually better with him as opposed to backup quarterback Matt Cassel – Dallas should find out more about that dilemma right away.

Head coach Jason Garrett could be grilled for a completely ridiculous challenge at the end of the first quarter that did nothing more than waste a timeout, but that was the least of Dallas’ problems.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, like Garrett, also played in the NFL, but there’s a difference. Rivera actually played on the field and was a part of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense that won Super Bowl XX almost by itself and is still the subject of legend for anyone who was around to witness it.

Rivera took few chances in this game and relied on a defense that’s one of the very best in the NFL. This Cowboys loss would end up feeling strikingly similar to that 44-0 loss to the Bears in ’85 that left no doubt that Dallas was far from contending for any more Super Bowls.

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The Panthers defense was bigger, stronger and faster than the Dallas offense. For the first time since that ugly season opener against the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, Romo looked slow, indecisive and overly-anxious as a result.

By the end of the third quarter, Romo was down once again with another collar bone injury that should shelf him and Dallas for the remainder of one of the most forgettable seasons in franchise history.

At least for this year, there should be no more talk of how great the Dallas offensive line is. While it’s clear that Romo was still shaking plenty of rust off following the two-month layup during the injury, this young wall of Pro Bowl blockers from last season’s 12-4 team looks like a shell of itself. This unit can’t run block or pass protect, period.

Compounding the situation is wide receiver Dez Bryant, also having missed most of the season with a broken foot. Against Carolina, the recently well-paid receiver looked like a 36-year old receiver on his last legs that struggles to get open – and also has little interest in pursuing opponents who end up with the football following a turnover.

I’m afraid the new Bryant contract might go down as one of the worst in franchise history.

The Dallas defense is also a mess.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, only recently getting recognition for his throwing ability, was razor sharp against a Cowboys secondary that was clueless against Carolina’s corps of pedestrian wide receivers.

The Carolina running game had its way against a defensive front almost completely void of play makers along the interior – Nick Hayden left the game midway through the third quarter, which left literally no beef in the middle in run support.

A final score of 33-14 might still leave the most optimistic Cowboys fan still believing that Dallas can somehow win the NFC East and get into the playoffs.

A realist would have to ask why?

A trip to Carolina would undoubtedly happen at some point early on and it’s clear that Dallas simply isn’t in the same class as the best team in the NFC, at least this year. Dallas obviously doesn’t match up with the AFC-leading New England Patriots either.

Next: Stars: 3 Things To Be Thankful For

It’s a good time to start looking at mock drafts even though December hasn’t even arrived yet. On the bright side, the Cowboys could very well be in line for a top-10 selection in the first round.

Can you say, ‘quarterback?’

  • Published on 11/27/2015 at 01:17 AM
  • Last updated at 11/27/2015 at 01:16 AM