Tony Romo mistakes shouldn't surprise

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We've watched Tony Romo tease us too many times to be surprised by what happened Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.

It was classic Romo.

He passed for 342 yards with a pair of touchdowns, finishing the game with a 101.9 passer rating.

But all Dallas Cowboys fans will want to talk about Monday morning is Romo's two fourth-quarter gaffes that helped the New York Jets rally for a 27-24 victory.

Here's some perspective: The Cowboys had been 246-0-1 when leading by 14 points in the fourth quarter, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

No more.

You can start by talking about the the fumble. Or you can go straight to the interception.

It doesn't really matter. Both were devastating.

"It's just disappointing and frustrating right now because we win that football game if I don't do what I did," Romo said of his interception with 49 seconds left.

"It's hard to swallow knowing we lost the game because of me. We work very hard to make sure that we're put in those positions to win the game. I have to do better. That's the bottom line."

It's certainly noble of Romo to accept responsibility for the loss, but we were going to blame him anyway. He's too talented to keep making the same mistakes season after season, right?

Maybe not.

After all, we're talking about a 31-year-old quarterback with multiple Pro Bowl appearances who's in his fifth season as a starter, but he's just 1-7 in his past eight games as a starter. And he has just one playoff win.

Romo has the talent to become one of the game's elite quarterbacks, and his mental acumen and physical skills should be in perfect harmony the next 2-3 seasons.

This team has the talent to exceed expectations, if Romo quits making critical mistakes.

Romo's fumble occurred with Dallas leading 24-17 and 8:59 left. A 67-yard catch-and-run by Jason Witten gave the Cowboys a first-and-goal from the Jets' 3. On third-and-goal, Romo rolled right and cut back left when he couldn't find a receiver.

For a moment, a lane opened and Romo tried to sprint through it. Then it closed.

He fumbled, and the Jets recovered at 2. Sure, Romo was trying to protect the ball -- he held it tight against his body -- but obviously he didn't do a good enough job.

It's not like the Jets knocked him silly on the play. In that situation, Romo simply can't fumble.

Fall down. Take the sack. Slide. Just don't fumble, because a short field goal would've given the Cowboys a 10-point lead, virtually guaranteeing them victory.

Still, the Cowboys had a chance to overcome the fumble and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown that tied the score at 24-24.

The Cowboys had the ball at their 41 with 59 seconds left, plenty of time to get in position for a game-winning field goal.

On second and 10, Romo forced a pass to Dez Bryant that Darrelle Revis intercepted.


In that situation, overtime is the worst thing that should've happened. No quarterback in his right mind challenges Revis -- the game's best cornerback -- in that situation.

"It was a dumb decision by me, too reactionary," Romo said. "That was my fault."

All you need to know is Dallas has now lost nine games by a touchdown or less since the start of last season. They've lost seven when they were tied or leading in the fourth quarter. Jason Garrett has lost four games as head coach by a total of 10 points.

Four plays after Revis' interception, former Cowboys kicker Nick Folk drilled a 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds left.

"I thought Tony did a really nice job throughout most of the game," Garrett said. "He'd probably like to have a couple of those plays back, but that's the nature of the position. One of the things I've known about him is he has a great resiliency about him."

He'll need it this week.

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