By Shawn Lealos

The Dallas Cowboys struggled for most of the night against the Washington Redskins. The score was 7-3 at halftime, with the Cowboys in the lead. Then, in the third quarter, with the Redskins leading 10-7, Tony Romo went down with an injured back. He headed to the locker room to have officials look him over. By the time he returned to the field, his backup Brandon Weeden led Dallas to a field goal and touchdown and the score was tied 17-17.

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After Romo returned to the field with less than a minute remaining and the game still tied, he demanded to come back in to try to lead his Cowboys to victory. It was a horrible mistake and Dallas ended up losing the game, 20-17, in overtime. Romo, still hurting from his back injury, was blitzed on almost every play and couldn’t do anything. That isn’t to say that Weeden could have led Dallas to victory, but he did provide the spark that tied up the game to begin with.

Weeden was a former first round draft pick for the Cleveland Browns. He lost his job there thanks in large part to the fact that the Browns had no weapons to surround him with and threw him out there, putting all the weight on his shoulders. In Dallas, he has Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and more to throw the ball to. He proved on Monday Night Football that he can win if given the chance.

When Weeden entered the game in the third quarter, he started out with two straight handoffs to DeMarco Murray and then two incomplete passes, leading to a field goal that tied the game up at 10. Those were his only two incompletions of the game. In the fourth quarter, he led Dallas 80 yards down the field, handing the ball off to Murray once and Joseph Randle twice. He completed passes to James Hanna, Terrance Williams, DeMarco Murray and a 25 yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten.

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By the end of the game, Brandon Weeden was 4-for-6 for 69 yards and a touchdown and a quarterback rating of 145.1. Then, Tony Romo came back to the field and demanded to come back into the game. The spark that Weeden provided died at that point. On the final drive of the fourth quarter, Romo completed three passes to Terrance Williams, fumbled the ball once and threw an incompletion on third and one that was called for intentional grounding.

In overtime, Romo handed the ball to DeMarco Murray to start things off and then threw a short screen pass for a loss, and two straight incompletions to end the game and hand Dallas their second loss of the season. The Dallas Cowboys need Tony Romo to win games, but when he is hurt, he can actually be a detriment to that goal.

The Redskins defense was smart. They blitzed on almost every play when Tony Romo came back into the game. They knew they hurt him earlier in the contest and knew that he was running from shadows. Even when they faked the blitz, Romo was still jittery. Brandon Weeden gave the Dallas Cowboys the best chance to win this game at the end, but Tony Romo came back in and the Cowboys lost.

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.