It seems no matter how hard Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo tries, the onus always falls on him.
To some it's wrong. There's no I in team. Romo is the franchise, but he's not the only one making mistakes that can cost the team wins.
Nevertheless, for all the NFL is worth, it's a quarterback-driven league. The blame will almost always be put on those playing Romo's position.
Former Cowboys great and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was the latest person to put the blame on Romo, especially for his role in the Cowboys' 24-point collapse against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Although Romo had 331 passing yards and three touchdowns, two of his three interceptions were returned for touchdowns in the second half. By the time the game was all said and done, Dallas blew a 27-3 lead on the way to a 34-30 loss.
Sooner or later we've just got to quit guessing and assuming that this guy is the guy to get you over the hump, and say, 'You know what? This guy is always going to be great statistically, but he's not that guy that can take you to where you want to go,' said Sanders. And that's the Super Bowl.
A lot of pressure has been on Romo to lead his team to the big stage ever since he started maturing as the starting QB a few years ago. The Cowboys haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1995, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, despite all his love for and endorsement of Romo, knows that.
One can guess that sort of drought continues to haunt Jones and fans. Yes, Romo has led his team to the playoffs. But, let's rewind and remember that the Cowboys could not get past the divisional round of the playoffs after the 2006, 2007 and 2009 seasons.
Romo's bad luck arguably started in the aforementioned 2006 playoffs, during the wild card round when the Cowboys played the Seattle Seahawks. With the Cowboys down 21-20 and 1:19 left on the clock, Dallas attempted a 19-yard field goal. Romo botched the hold for the kicker by dropping the snap. Then, he tried to redeem himself by running into the end zone for an touchdown, but was tackled at the one-yard line by Seattle defensive back Jordan Babineaux.
It was at that point fans began to think of Romo as a choke artist.
Fast forward to week one and four of this season.
In week one, the Cowboys had a 24-10 lead against the New York Jets going into the fourth, however, Romo threw two picks, the second leading to a Jets go-ahead field goal that capped the game, 27-24. In week four, the Cowboys had a 27-3 lead against the Detroit Lions going into the second half, however, Romo threw two picks in the third, which were both returned for TDs. The Lions eventually capped that game, 34-27.
On the other hand, Romo has been good in late-game situations this season, leading his team on a pair of game-winning scoring drives, one against the San Francisco 49ers and the other against the Washington Redskins. According to ESPN, Romo has 11 fourth-quarter comebacks and 12 game-winning drives for his career.
Others' views on Romo are just as polarizing as his performances this season.
People like Redskins tight end Chris Cooley are in one corner:
It's amazing, amazing to watch him choke like that, said Cooley on 106.7 The Fan in Washington. I'm just saying, [if] I'm up 24 points in the third quarter, if I'm the head coach, I feel like I could probably just take a knee for the rest of the game, punt it away and there's no way that Detroit's gonna drive on you that many times. The only way you're gonna give up that many points is turnovers, right? It's hilarious to watch him throw pick sixes, too, back to back. I loved it.
People like Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki are in another:
Dear tony romo. Don't worry abt all the critics, Nowitzki tweeted. I heard that same garbage for a long time. Keep working hard and keep improving.
So, at least that tweet was a sign that Romo is a hard worker and has improved. But in the end, what fans care about most are results, especially results that lead to playoff victories that eventually lead to the Super Bowl. Point blank, Tony Romo, since he took the helm in 2006, hasn't led his team to produce those results.
A quarterback can only go so far before he is replaced, before someone else steps in his shoes, whether he is the next heir apparent or not. The fact is, Romo is at the center of attention for one of the most winning franchises in football with an owner who, like a movie director, wants to see near-perfect performances considering the amount of money spent to put everything together.
We can't predict Jones' next move for Romo. What we know, though, is Romo's opportunities to capitalize have gone overboard for a long time now. He hasn't been consistently superhero-like. Maybe he's just too human to wear a star on his helmet.