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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
A look back at Tony Romo's last game

By Todd Archer

OXNARD, Calif. -- On Thursday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will return to the field full-time for the first time since a Week 16 win against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 22, 2013.

Five days later Romo underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, forcing him to miss the winner-take-all season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles that the Cowboys lost.

Romo’s offseason was filled with rehab, a little bit of football and no golf. He and his wife welcomed their second son into the world. The Cowboys confirmed their faith in him by passing on Johnny Manziel in the first round. Debates raged about how high -- or low -- he should be ranked among quarterbacks. The first questions of retirement came about in part because of his second back surgery in less than a year and the fact that he turned 34 in April.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo's late-game heroics against Washington last December left the Cowboys in contention to win the NFC East in the finale against the Eagles.
But as he gets ready to return to the practice field, it’s worth re-visiting what Romo did in his last game to remember just how good he was and can be.

At 7-7, the Cowboys were in a must-win situation at FedEx Field that day. With 3:39 left to play the Cowboys trailed 23-17.

Fifty-two weeks earlier the Cowboys were in a Week 17 must-win situation against the Redskins, trailing 21-18 with 3:33 to play. Romo’s pass on the second play of the drive was intercepted, ending the Cowboys’ hopes for a playoff spot and an NFC East championship.

With that in his head and his body aching, a numbing pain shooting down his legs from the back injury, Romo delivered.

For all of those who believe he does nothing but falter in the fourth quarter, this drive was his shining moment.

First down, Dallas 13, 3:39

With three wide receivers on the field and in the shotgun, the Redskins brought five pass rushers, and Romo’s throw to the sideline was low and just out of the reach of Terrance Williams.

Second down, Dallas 13, 3:28

Same personnel grouping, but the Redskins only rush four. Romo makes a small hand gesture to Williams, who runs a comeback after Washington corner David Amerson gets turned around. The completion is good for 15 yards.

First down, Dallas 28, 3:21

The Cowboys continue with 11 personnel and a shot gun, but Dez Bryant is lined up alone to Romo’s left and the Redskins only rush four. Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall makes a great play with a last-second deflection of Romo’s pass to Bryant on the sideline.

Second down, Dallas 28, 3:14

The Cowboys keep the same formation with Bryant alone to the left and Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and Williams to the right. The Redskins have eight at the line of scrimmage but only rush four. Bryant is doubled and Witten is not open. Beasley is open at the far hash, but Romo scrambled to his right as he gets pressured. He gives a quick pump fake and Josh Wilson slips at midfield. Williams turns up field and Romo chucks the pass for a 51-yard completion.

First down, Washington 21, 2:51

The Cowboys keep with 11 personnel but Witten’s hand is in the ground at tight end with the Redskins putting eight in the box, expecting a run. Romo throws a quick “smoke” to Bryant with Hall in off coverage. The play was supposed to be a run, but the pass picks up 17 yards after Bryant breaks a tackle.

First and goal, Washington 4, 2:16

The Cowboys bring in fullback Tyler Clutts and go with 21 personnel. With time on their side, the Cowboys want to eat up clock but score as well. DeMarco Murray gets his first carry of the drive and picks up three yards,

DeMarco Murray
DeMarco Murray's game-winning touchdown came after some of Tony Romo's famous improvisation.
Second and goal, Washington 1, 2:00

Coming out of the two-minute warning the Cowboys go with 22 personnel and bring in backup tackle Jermey Parnell as an extra blocker. Doug Free gets beat at the snap and is knocked back into Clutts. London Fletcher dives over the top, and Murray is stopped for no gain.

Third and goal, Washington 1, 1:55

The Cowboys stick with their power look against the Redskins goal-line defense. Travis Frederick and Ronald Leary are beaten at the snap. James Hanna misses his block. Murray attempts to circle back to his right with three defenders waiting for him and loses nine yards.

Fourth and goal, Washington 10

The season is on the line, and everybody knows the Cowboys have to pass. The Cowboys line up with 11 personnel again with Miles Austin in the slot over Beasley. Bryant is alone to Romo’s right. The Redskins only rush four, hoping to flood the tight area with defenders to make for a difficult. Witten is covered well by Fletcher. Bryant is not open. Austin is at the goal line and Murray is not an option. Murray chips the defensive end before funneling out wide. With Tyron Smith getting beat, Romo slides up to his right and gives a quick pump fake to freeze the linebacker, who is inside Murray. That gives Murray more time to shake free, and he catches the ball at the 2 and backs his way in before Hall can hit him.

The Cowboys had their touchdown. Romo had his comeback.

Five days later he would need surgery and his season was over.

On Thursday he starts on the road back, where he will have a chance to deliver again.