A weekly analysis of the Cowboys’ quarterback play:
Rewind: Tony Romo played the best game of his career on Sunday versus the Denver Broncos, completing 25 of 36 passes for a franchise-record 506 yards and a franchise-record-tying five touchdowns, but what will mostly be remembered is his late fourth-quarter interception. The Broncos converted that into a game-winning field goal as time expired, and even though Romo outdueled Peyton Manning, the mistake was a killer. But what Romo was able to do in that game was push the ball down the field. He had eight completions of 25 yards or more after entering the game with only three such completions in the first four games. The big play returned to the Cowboys’ offense, and it needs to stay.
Fast-forward: In 16 games against the Washington Redskins, Romo has 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and has been sacked 16 times. But the last time he saw Washington he completed a season-low 54.1 percent of his passes (20 of 37) and was intercepted three times, including a late fourth-quarter pick when the Cowboys were driving to either tie or win the game. They lost 28-18 in their second straight de facto NFC East title game. The Redskins were able to break down the offensive line with the same blitz, keeping him under pressure. The Cowboys spent the offseason working on ways to handle that blitz, and the pass protection has been much better in 2013.
Bouncing back: Like a cornerback, a quarterback needs a short memory so one mistake doesn’t turn into two or three. At the same time, the quarterback can’t go into a shell. Unfortunately for Romo, he has had plenty of practice at coming back from difficult losses that can be traced to his mistakes, but he has shown the ability to rebound. In 2008, a three-pick game against Pittsburgh, including a pick-six, was followed by a two-touchdown performance in a must-win game against the New York Giants. After a late pick in the 2011 opener against the New York Jets, he played through a broken rib and punctured lung to beat San Francisco in overtime. Romo has the ability to put bad plays behind him and there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to do that against the Redskins on Sunday.
Prediction: I boldly predicted Romo would have 300 yards against the Broncos and he went for 500. I can’t predict 500 yards, but I will predict a 300-yard game for Romo considering how the Washington defense has played. He has two 300-yard games against the Redskins in his career, but points have been hard to come by. In his last seven starts against the Redskins, the Cowboys have scored more than 18 points just twice.