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Friday, January 17, 2014
Plays that shaped the season: No. 1

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

Editor's note: In this series, Jean-Jacques Taylor counts down 10 plays that shaped the Cowboys' season.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo rallied the Cowboys after hurting his back in Washington but couldn't play in the finale.

Play No. 1: Tony Romo back injury

Situation: Third-and-1 from Dallas' 48
Score: Dallas trails, 23-14
Time: 11:59 left in fourth quarter

Taylor's Take: There was no huge hit by an unblocked blitzing linebacker, which would have been much easier to understand. Instead, Tony Romo twisted his upper torso when a defensive lineman clipped his leg as he maneuvered away from pressure in the pocket to complete a short first-down pass to Miles Austin. Romo was clearly in discomfort after the play, but he still managed to lead the Cowboys on two fourth-quarter scoring drives to beat Washington and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Season Impact: After the game, Romo said he tweaked his back but didn’t think it was going to be too bad. A few days later, he had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, ending his season. No team wants to play a win-and-get-in game without its starting quarterback, especially a player with 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. As well as Kyle Orton played against Philadelphia the following week, the Cowboys would have been in a much better position to win the game if Romo had started and finished the game.

Quote: "I tweaked it in the game and then for whatever reason, the twist or whatever it was, definitely just made it not feel comfortable." -- Tony Romo