Sunday night’s 36-31 victory over the Giants at AT&T Stadium was something of a rib-injury rubbermatch for Tony Romo, who suffered notable rib injuries in each of the past two seasons and was 1-1 in the games where they occurred. A brutal sandwich hit between two defensive linemen Sunday night left Romo wincing on the sidelines and had backup Kyle Orton taking snaps just before halftime.
In San Francisco two years ago, Romo cracked a rib and punctured a lung on the third play of the game. He gutted it out for a half, but missed the third quarter, and his team fell behind 24-14. He came back for the fourth quarter and connected on 12 of 15 passes for 201 yards in the final frame and overtime to lead his team to victory.
At Fed Ex Field in week 17 last year, Romo was again asked to not just manage the game, but make plays with a cracked rib. This time the injury occurred near the end of the first half, and Romo didn’t miss a snap. Down by 11 in the fourth quarter, his comeback effort came up short as he threw an interception with three minutes to play that effectively sealed the loss.
Romo appears to have hurt his ribs again Sunday night. No one’s saying for sure how severe the damage is, and Romo was his typical stoic self with Michele Tafoya after the game, but the hit he suffered near the end of the first half was nasty enough to get Orton on the field. The shots of him wincing in pain on the sidelines suggested he didn’t simply have the wind knocked out of him.
This time, though, no wild comeback efforts were necessary. The Romo offense was only so-so, but the Cowboys never trailed Sunday night at home against the Giants. Six turnovers and two second-half scores by the defense meant Romo didn’t have to force anything – Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 put this win away.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about how unbelievable our defense played tonight – that was special,” Romo told Tafoya after the game. “…I think more than anything we haven’t created as many turnovers the last few years as we would like… That’s been our number one mantra in training camp. Sean Lee and the defense, they’ve just been getting the ball since day one and they haven’t stopped, so that’s exciting.”
The Cowboys had been due for some breaks at home in this rivalry, having endured four straight painful losses to the G-Men. Luck has a way of evening out over time, and the pendulum swung back late in the fourth quarter Sunday when an Eli Manning pass glanced off running back De’Rel Scott’s hands straight into Brandon Carr’s gut on the first play following the two-minute warning.
Carr was already pointed toward the endzone and didn’t break stride in catching the ball and running 49 yards to give the ‘Boys a two-score lead and put the game away. It was a rare and beautiful thing: A game-clinching play that Tony Romo watched from the sidelines. No more was asked of him; he could smile for the camera, hobble back to the locker room, and heal up for next week.
Watching Carr streak down the sideline, Cowboys Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. Surely Romo did, too – as well as he could breathe, anyway…