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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Updated: October 4, 8:36 AM ET
Tony Romo's blunders here to stay

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Just a few weeks ago, Tony Romo presided over the worst fourth-quarter collapse in the Dallas Cowboys' illustrious franchise history.

Now, he can add the worst overall collapse in franchise history to his resume after the Cowboys figured out a way to blow a 24-point, third-quarter lead.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo's decision-making -- not his courage or toughness -- deserves serious scrutiny.
Detroit 34, Dallas 30.

Unbelievable.

Seriously, let that marinate.

In the opener against the New York Jets, the Cowboys had been 246-0-1 with a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. Before Sunday's debacle, the Cowboys' biggest blown lead was 21 points, which last occurred in 1965 against the hated Washington Redskins.

All you can do is shake your head.

Really, you saw the best of Tony Romo in a brilliant first half as he pushed Dallas to a 20-3 lead that swelled to 27-3 after the Cowboys took the second-half kickoff and drove for a touchdown.

Then we witnessed the worst of Romo. He threw three second-half interceptions -- two were absolutely awful decisions -- providing the catalyst for Detroit's comeback.

He finished with 331 yards passing with three interceptions and three touchdowns.

No way Jason Garrett's hair will remain red with a few more seasons of Romo as his quarterback. He'll either pull it out because Romo drives him crazy, or it'll turn white because Romo's poor decision-making is accelerating the aging process.

Understand, this has nothing to do with Romo's toughness. Or courage. Or leadership. Romo, who took an injection to play Sunday, has removed any doubt about his intangibles in those areas by playing with a fractured rib the past three games.

Actually, this is about a 31-year-old, nine-year veteran making the same dumb decisions season after season. There's no reason, if we're honest, to think it'll ever stop.

All you can do is hope it does because Romo isn't going anywhere. The Cowboys have wrapped a Kevlar vest around his job security, and Jon Kitna is not a viable option because Romo is the better player.

Romo If you're going to try to make some plays, then you're going to have some bad plays. As Tony goes, we'll go.

-- Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones on his QB, Tony Romo
And even if the Cowboys chose to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback next season, that dude is not going to beat Romo out. You're living in fantasy land if you think someone is going to trade the Cowboys the rights to Andrew Luck.

For the foreseeable future, Romo is your guy. Deal with it.

"There's no issue about faith in Romo in any place in this organization. Period." Jerry Jones said. "We have a lot of faith in Romo. This doesn't touch that.

"If you're going to try to make some plays, then you're going to have some bad plays. As Tony goes, we'll go."

How comforting.

"He knows that I believe in him," Garrett said. "Our staff believes in him. His teammates believe in him."

Still, this loss begins and ends with Romo after his brilliance helped the Cowboys forge a huge lead and his interceptions resuscitated the Lions.

A 1-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten gave the Cowboys a 27-3 lead with 12:23 left in the third quarter, and when the Cowboys forced a punt the outcome seemed inevitable.

Then Romo gave the Lions hope.

He directed a sideline pass toward Dez Bryant, but linebacker Bobby Carpenter, a groomsman at Romo's wedding this spring, stepped into the flat and easily intercepted the pass.

Carpenter, the Cowboys' first-round pick in 2006, returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

Seven plays later, Romo threw another interception.

You can probably blame this one on Laurent Robinson because he let Chris Houston get inside him on a slant. Houston returned the interception 56 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Lions within 27-17.

Suddenly, Detroit believed it could win. The Lions closed to 30-27 on a 51-yard field goal by Jason Hanson with 4:22 left, which gave Romo plenty of time to make one more bad decision.

On first down, Romo heaved a pass off his back foot -- he was under duress -- toward Witten. Stephen Tulloch tipped the badly underthrown pass into the air before intercepting it.

You simply can't throw that pass. Not in that situation. Not with a chance to still salvage the game.

"I'm not taking anything away from them, they made a play when they had to," Romo said. "I shouldn't have allowed them to have that chance."

We've heard it all before. No doubt, we'll hear it all again.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.