Deion Sanders rips QB Tony Romo

Updated: October 5, 2011, 1:14 AM ET
ESPNDallas.com

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo just can't win for losing.

Former Cowboys great Deion Sanders was the latest person to rip Romo for his role in the Cowboys' collapse on Sunday. Two Romo interceptions were returned for touchdowns in the second half as Dallas blew a 27-3 lead on the way to a 34-30 loss to the Lions.

"I don't understand this guy," Sanders said on the NFL Network. "Just when you want to believe in him, heroic effort, came back against San Francisco, they said punctured lung and everything. And we praised him, we said, 'Yeah, he's that leader, he's their guy.' And then you come and do this. What are you thinking?

"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.' And that's the Super Bowl."

For the day, Romo completed 34-of-47 passes for 331 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. But it was his play at the end of the game that cost Dallas a possibility of going 3-1 instead of the Cowboys being 2-2 heading into their bye week.

"Dallas Cowboys fans are sick of it," Sanders, a NFL Network analyst, said. "We had (Romo) on our shoulders last week. 'Oh Tony, he's our king!' But now we want to stone him. I'm serious, that's the way (fans) feel about him because you can't trust him. I like him. Statistically, he's great, but you can't trust him."

Others took personal pleasure in Romo's demise.

"It's amazing, amazing to watch him choke like that," Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said 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."

Cooley wants to beat Romo himself, but not just on the football field. He said he would relish getting into a cage with him.

"For me to beat Tony? I'm gonna be honest, I don't know what kind of cage fighting skills he has," Cooley told the radio station. "I would probably try to incorporate my wrestling ability, like when I was in high school. Obviously it's been awhile, but I didn't like to beat people fast. I like to embarrass 'em a little bit. Like, take a 24-point lead, and then just play with it a little bit."

Not everyone is down on Romo, however.

On Monday, Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki tweeted that Romo should hang in there, keep working and not let the critics bring him down.

And Romo's coach is standing by him.

"I don't think it's difficult to trust him," Jason Garrett said Monday. "We've had a lot of success in these situations in our 4½ years with Tony as our quarterback. Now have they been 100 percent perfect? No. But you try to create the environment and you try and do the things as a coach to help him be as good as he can be in those situations.

"But again, it's a team thing. It's everybody together, Tony is a big part of it because he's our quarterback, but it's the other guys on offense, the other guys on defense and throughout our team."

These late-game problems are nothing new for Romo.

In Dallas' Week 1 loss to the New York Jets, Romo fumbled at his opponents' 2-yard-line, preventing his team from adding to a seven-point lead. He then threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Jets to kick the go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to play.

Romo, however, has been good in late-game situations this season, leading his team on a pair of game-winning scoring drives. In his career, Romo has 11 fourth-quarter comebacks and 12 game-winning drives.

At times one has to wonder, which Romo the Cowboys will get?

"I think you're always trying to improve," Garrett said. "You're always trying to learn from these situations that you're in. I think his end of game situations, in relation to the football, are things he has to get better at. He knows that and he'll be the first one to say that. So we have to find a way for him to get better at that."

When Romo became the starting quarterback in 2006, he had a gunslinger mentality, much like Brett Favre, who he grew up admiring. Over the years, Cowboys' offensive coaches contained Romo's gunslinger mentality some, but there are times where it creeps out and leads to bad things.

Garrett said he's thought about reigning in Romo at times.

"The best quarterbacks I've ever been around have an aggressive mentality," Garrett said. "If you look at the best quarterbacks in the league right now they have an aggressive mentality. You have to in order to play well. But certainly you have to overlay the situation of the game into your aggressiveness. It's a position of risk and reward every time you have the ball in your hand and you got to make sure you understand your play versus their defense but also you have to understand the game situation."

In 65 career starts, Romo is 41-24 but has lost seven of his last 10 starts dating back to 2010. He missed the last 10 games of the 2010 season with a broken collarbone. When asked about Romo's recent mark, Garrett said Romo is a good quarterback and believes in him, much like his teammates.

Still, it's hard to ignore the recent history of Romo and what's coming up when the Cowboys finish the bye week.

Dallas visits a New England Patriots team, which hasn't lost at home since 2008, in two weeks.

"It doesn't feel good," Romo said Sunday of how he'll feel during the bye.

Information from ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins was used in this report.

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