By Ben Rogers | @BenRogers
ARLINGTON (105.3 THE FAN) — As NFL experts from around the galaxy continue to forecast bleakness on an epic, “End-of-the-World” level for the Cowboys enfeebled defense, one thing is becoming perfectly clear… for the Cowboys to even have a chance at a 9-win parity party that MIGHT land them in the postseason, it will all be on Tony Romo’s back.
It was a strange training camp for the most important back in football where disaster precaution was clearly the team’s primary strategy. Limited reps on the heels of 100% prognosis updates muddied the waters significantly. Romo himself sounded like he was dealing with a Bermuda Triangle flight plan while discussing the way his back was feeling. That’s why Saturday’s action against the Ravens was so important. Enough talk. Enough speculation. Enough ‘you-know-I-hurt-my-back-once’ stories from friends, co-workers and neighbors. Enough reminders about Troy Aikman’s back. Enough fake doctoring by people like me who aren’t officially qualified to administer a Band-Aid. Enough.
Let’s finally see with our own eyeballs how this Romoback is holding up.
To be clear, I don’t really worry about Tony Romo’s back over the course of normal, duress-free drop-back-and-pass football activity. I worry about it when he has to do something out of the ordinary. When he gets leveled, or a play breaks down and he suddenly has to twist, and tweak, and reach, and wrench, and ouch.
Tiger Woods aggravated his Romoback while attempting a weird, tricked-up bunker shot at a ridiculously unorthodox angle. One foot in the sand, one significantly higher up on the grass outside the bunker. He’s never practiced that! Dangerous. Texas Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison aggravated his Romoback sleeping on a terrible econo-motel prison bunk style slab mattress. He’s a millionaire! He typically sleeps on a pile of fluffed hundred dollar bills in a floating, silk-wrapped cotton cocoon. Dangerous. As long as nothing truly strange happens during the course of a game (or comfy night’s sleep), I’m truly not all that worried about Romo and his exceedingly suspect back.
So the Romo plan for Saturday’s preseason game against the Ravens was simple: Drop back, pass. Hand off the rock. Drop back, pass. And let’s get out of here.
Then football happened.
On his first series, following a botched handoff attempt where DeMarco Murray seemingly forgot that he had human arms, Romo found himself in the awkward situation of trying to tackle a fumble-scooping 275-lb human bulldozer barreling towards a defensive touchdown. Uh-oh.
This is not normal quarterbacking activity. This is not the plan. This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. Buckle your seatbelts, folks – the season is now officially on the line as Tony Romo attempts to tackle an SUV while wearing a body cast.
The 34-year old QB with multiple recent back surgeries grabbed hold of man-mountain Courtney Upshaw like someone grabbing the handrail on a moving street trolley.
After having zero impact on Upshaw’s ferocious momentum, despite his purest tackling intentions, Romo quickly looked like a guy unsuccessfully attempting to water ski behind an aircraft carrier. He reached. He tweaked. He wrenched. His body twisted and spun and re-twisted before falling to the Jerryworld turf like a mannequin getting spit out of a steamroller.
Cowboys Nation was left breathless. Tears preparing to well up if called upon. Questions swirling. Emotions building. Total silence. How fitting would it be for it all to end on a blooper? A complete mistake. A clown show. A botched handoff in a preseason game? Really? Why didn’t they draft Johnny Football? Why the Romo contract extension? Why won’t Jerry hire a football guy? Why won’t Jimmy come back? Why did Dave Campo keep that mullet perm hairstyle for so long? Why? Why? WHY?!?!?!?!?
Hold up. He’s getting up. He’s fine, everybody. Ummmmmm. Carry on.
Not only did he get up, but he was pretty-pretty-pretty darn Romotastic after that. He even had time to remind us that the 9-to-88 connection could be one for the record books this season.
After the game, Romo put the picture in the frame for us once again. It won’t be easy. It won’t be predictable. It will likely get better and worse and better again and worse again over the course of the season.
“It felt good. It’s just part of going through it. It is continuing to get stronger. When you feel good, you play, and you keep going,” Romo said.
Luckily for Cowboys fans, his back continued to feel good after a bizarre play that could have been catastrophic.
Catch Ben Rogers on the Ben & Skin Show, weekdays 3-7 p.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
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