Here's how this Cowboys story ends

You won't hear this from owner Jerry Jones or coach Wade Phillips on Tuesday, but the Cowboys' only chance at getting back in the playoff conversation hinged on Tony Romo playing like an elite quarterback for an extended period of time. Now that Romo's out with a broken left collarbone, Dallas' season is effectively over.

Jon Kitna's the type of quarterback who can get you through one or two games, but asking him to play for two months is too much. At some point in November, there's a good chance the pride of Texas A&M, Stephen McGee, will be thrown to the wolves. Kitna has a puncher's chance against the Jaguars next Sunday, but I don't see the Cowboys going on the road and beating Green Bay or the Giants with him at the helm.

It was a stretch to suggest that even a healthy Romo could lead this team back into the playoff conversation. Now the Cowboys are staring at a 5-11 season -- if they can rally.