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IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, one of seven NFL quarterbacks with a $100 million contract, is paid to win football games and absorb criticism whether it's legitimate or not.
He earned whatever criticism -- real or perceived -- coach Jason Garrett directed his way Sunday for throwing a fourth-quarter interception that helped Green Bay complete a stunning comeback from a 26-3 halftime deficit.
Frankly, it's about time.
You can't whine about Garrett failing to hold players publicly accountable, which is a fallacy, and then whine when he criticizes Romo after the quarterback makes two awful decisions on the same play.
|Tony Romo deserves just as much of the blame for the Cowboys' meltdown against the Packers as any player or coach.|
Especially because Romo spent the offseason negotiating for more power and authority as it pertains to the offense. With more responsibility comes additional credit or blame as warranted.
On the fateful play against Green Bay, Romo actually made two dumb decisions.
First, when the play came in from Garrett via Bill Callahan with an automatic switch to a pass play if the defense lined up a certain way, Romo should've considered the time left in the game (2 minutes, 58 seconds), Green Bay's timeout situation, the success of the Cowboys' running game and ignored the pass option.
We're talking about a dude who has made 107 NFL starts, played in three Pro Bowls and certainly has the authority to change or alter any play he gets from Callahan.
Don't waste your breath telling me he doesn't. We all know he does.
The second dumb decision Romo made occurred after he deftly avoided blitzing linebacker Clay Matthews. He was off balance and drifting to his left.
As he has done all season, occasionally to a fault, Romo should've taken the conservative approach: either run the ball or throw it away.
Instead, Romo tried to lead Miles Austin across the field, and, because Romo didn't have his feet set when he threw it, the pass wound up in the only spot where Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields could intercept it.
After the game, Garrett said Romo should not have changed the play. Some folks have suggested it blasphemous that Garrett would reveal publicly that he thought Romo made a judgment error.
"I haven't read it or seen it," Romo said. "I'm not sure what you're talking about."
Garrett was asked a simple question and he provided the truth. Four days after the loss, Callahan took full responsibility over every part of the play.
"The good thing about Tony is he really doesn't care about what people say," said tight end Jason Witten, "because he has such high expectations for himself. Tony has thick skin. He's been at this a long time."
True perfection doesn't exist in sports. Mistakes happen every play. There's nothing wrong with pointing it out, when asked. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle does it. So does Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.
What's the big deal?
Garrett had no malicious intent. Others, as you would expect, disagree.
They think Garrett tried to assign blame for the collapse because he sees his job security slipping away. Really? If he doesn't make the playoffs, he should expect to be fired. Whoever gets blamed for this Green Bay travesty isn't going to matter.
Any player who believes he's above occasional public criticism from his head coach isn't worth having on the roster. When you think about it, Garrett has publicly criticized several players over the past couple of seasons, but he's never malicious.
Just off the top of my head, he has publicly criticized Doug Free, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, DeMarcus Ware, B.W. Webb and J.J. Wilcox over the past two seasons.
We need to be less concerned with Romo's feelings and more concerned with whether the quarterback can find redemption Sunday against Washington. It's going to be difficult, because Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has really done a good job containing the Cowboys offense.
In the six games against Washington with Haslett as coordinator, Romo has 10 touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a 86.1 passer rating, while averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt.
This from a guy with a career passer rating of 95.8 and an average of 7.8 yards per attempt. Romo has had a passer rating of more than 90.0 only once against Washington since Haslett took over in 2010.
Let's be clear, the pressure on Romo to deliver a playoff appearance is immense -- even if most think the Cowboys will get blown out no matter who they play in the first round.
No sane person would hold Romo accountable for the blowout loss to Chicago, but the Green Bay defeat is another story. Garrett let down Romo with his overall game management, but Romo had the right to speak up every play along the way and didn't.
He's every bit as responsible for that debacle as Garrett and Callahan are. Romo deserved the criticism Garrett directed his way.
Now, it's on to Washington. An opportunity at redemption awaits.