During the Dallas Cowboys’ seven-game losing streak, Tony Romo’s abilities became almost mythical. The quarterback who had a record of 25-28 between 2010 and 2013 was going to return from a clavicle injury and lead Dallas to seven consecutive wins and a run to the Super Bowl.
Much of this talk focused on how well the Cowboys did in 2014, plus the team’s first two wins in 2015. After all, the team was 2-0 when Romo went down with his injury.
Of course, we have chosen to forget that Romo was just one piece of the puzzle that caused Dallas to finish with a 12-4 record in 2014. The running game took pressure off Romo, and the Dallas defense played well over its head after horrible showings in 2012 and 2013.
We chose to forget that Cowboys probably should have lost to the Giants in week 1 in 2015 and only won because of some poor mistakes by the Giants and the referee. Yes, Romo led the game-winning drive, but the drive would not have occurred had the Giants and referees not made mistakes before that drive.
We also chose to overlook Romo’s two interceptions in the win over Miami last week. Romo was bound to be rusty, and he did manage to throw two touchdown passes in the win. However, he took plenty of hard shots from the Miami defensive line and did not look especially sharp.
We lastly overlooked what has tended to happen during Romo’s career when he has tried to do to much on his own. For instance, a Dallas quarterback has thrown five interceptions in a single game seven times during the past 56 years. Romo has done that twice.
Anyway, the Romo myth helped to make the Cowboys favorites against the undefeated Panthers on Thanksgiving. It became evident that it might be a long day when Kurt Coleman picked off a Romo pass less than a minute into the game and returned the pick for a touchdown.
Dallas never really recovered. Romo threw another pick-6 when Luke Kuechly snagged a pass intended for Jason Witten and returned it 32 yards for another score. By that point, the Panthers led 20-3.
A third Romo interception led to another Graham Gano field goal, giving the Panthers a 23-3 halftime lead. It was the worst halftime deficient on Thanksgiving Day in the history of the Cowboys.
And yes, it could get worse. On the final play of the third quarter, Thomas Davis sacked Romo, and Romo immediately grabbed his left collarbone. It was fairly obvious that he re-injured his clavicle, and the team sent him in for x-rays.
Whether he returns in 2015 does not seem to matter, though. The defense succeeded in forcing field goals against the Panthers, but the idea that Dallas has a playoff-caliber pass rush with Greg Hardy and others is another myth. Dallas did manage one sack of Cam Newton, but far too often, Dallas never came close to creating pressure.
Ah, yes, the Kraken. The legendary sea monster…who tries to swim inside a line of Panthers and suddenly becomes invisible.
Carolina did not have a huge rushing today, but Jonathan Stewart regularly managed three, four, or five yards on first down. Carolina was able to win the time of possession by holding the ball for more than 35 minutes.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were supposed to have The Best Offensive Line in Football such that any running back would easily duplicate what DeMarco Murray did last year.
Darren McFadden has had his moments, but his performance on Thursday made The Best Offensive Line in Football story look like yet another myth.
During the past 10 years, the Cowboys (and their fans, including me) have made the mistake of talking about the Super Bowl, even though the team has not shown the ability (or resolve, or talent) to win more than a single playoff game, if that many. The current Cowboys are talking about making a playoff run when the team could not win a single game for two months and now cannot win more than one game in a row.
The Panthers showed they are elite right now. The Cowboys should start thinking about 2016.