At one time, Tony Romo gave the Dallas Cowboys their best hope to make a Super Bowl run in several years.
He almost led the team to a playoff win in 2006. He almost led the team to the NFC Championship Game in 2007 and 2009.
He almost led the team back to the playoffs in 2011. He almost led the team back to the playoffs in 2012.
In the season finale in 2012, his Cowboys were down 21-10, but Romo started to lead a comeback. And the comeback almost happened. Romo threw a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion, giving the Cowboys a chance.
When the Cowboys got the ball back down 21-18, it was time for Romo to do better than almost. He instead threw an awkward pass that was picked off by linebacker Rob Jackson.
If it isn’t Romo making some key mistake, it is the defense falling apart at the wrong time. In the loss to the Redskins last December, the defense could have forced a field goal and given the Cowboys hope.
Instead, Washington burned more than four minutes off the clock and secured the win with a touchdown.
What does this have to do with a thrilling, 51-48 loss to the Broncos on Sunday?
Well, the Cowboys almost pulled off one of the most exciting wins in recent memory. The Cowboys almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the NFL this season.
The reason we are using the adverb almost is not entirely one person’s fault. Romo became the first Cowboy to throw for more than 500 yards in a game, and his five touchdown passes were critical in the Cowboys having a 48-41 lead.
It was not entirely the defense’s fault, even though the defense had trouble slowing down Denver’s offense. The defense did force two turnovers that led to 15 Dallas points.
The Cowboys took a 48-41 lead with 7:19 remaining. The Broncos took over at the Denver 27. Theoretically, at least, the Cowboys defense could have forced a stop.
That was not going to happen. The Cowboys could not even force a third down play, as the Broncos went 73 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 48.
The Cowboys took over at their own 20.
On first down, Romo suffered a sack and lost six yards.
On second down, he felt pressure and stepped up into the pocket. Although he could have dumped the ball off to DeMarco Murray, he tried to force the ball to Gavin Escobar.
Danny Trevathan stepped in front of the pass and picked it off. Eight plays later, Matt Prater kicked a chip-shot field goal to give the Broncos the win.
The ruined a breakout game of sorts for young receiver Terrance Williams, who had 151 receiving yards, including an 82-yard touchdown.
Williams’ touchdown helped to spark the Cowboys when the team was down 35-20 in the third quarter. Until that play happened, the Broncos had outscored the Cowboys 28-3 between the second and third quarters.
Denver picked on embattled cornerback Morris Claiborne, but Claiborne was able to record the first interception of Peyton Manning this season. Claiborne also recovered a fumble in the first quarter.
The defensive line featured some players few of us know. David Carter? Drake Nevis? Caesar Rayford?
The nickname Doomsday Defense does not come to mind.
Sean Lee and Barry Church were always around the football, but the defense did not have answers. The Cowboys have given up 2,046 yards in five games, or an average of 409.2 yards per game.
Remember the 2010 Cowboys, who gave up a record 436 points in a 6-10 season? That team only gave up 351.8 yards per game.
Dallas is now tied in the NFC East with Philadelphia with a 2-3 record. The Cowboys play Washington next Sunday night.