Commentary

Tony Romo, Cowboys left shattered

With quarterback's fractured left clavicle, team's postseason hopes all but broken

Updated: October 26, 2010, 10:46 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If there's a glimmer of good news regarding Tony Romo's injury, it's that the fractured clavicle is attached to his non-throwing arm.

Plus -- and perhaps this isn't quite classified as positive information -- the 1-5 Dallas Cowboys can't get a whole lot worse without their franchise quarterback.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireDez Bryant stands over Tony Romo after Romo's left clavicle was broken on a hit by the Giants' Michael Boley.

The 41-35 loss to the New York Giants in a game not nearly as competitive as the final score indicated basically killed Dallas' dwindling playoff hopes. They pretty much died the moment linebacker Michael Boley drove Romo into the Cowboys Stadium turf after coming scot-free on a blitz.

"I was kind of in shock," Romo said. "When it happens, your body goes in shock, so I had kind of a hard time breathing."

So did the rest of the 91,000-plus folks wearing silver and blue in the stadium. The full extent of the damage to Romo's left clavicle won't be known until he undergoes medical tests Tuesday morning. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the initial prognosis is that Romo would miss six to eight weeks.

"That guy is a fighter," tight end/Romo pal Jason Witten said. "He'll bounce back. He'll be back out there before it's over."

Maybe Romo will return before the end of the Cowboys' schedule. But make no mistake: The season is over.

What's the best-case scenario here? Say Romo misses six weeks. Who really believes that a Cowboys team that has consistently found ways to lose so far this season can win even half of those games? Even if they do, we're talking about a 4-8 team with a rusty quarterback trying to ride to the rescue.

"It's kind of gloomy," said linebacker Bradie James, which is sort of like saying the Dallas defense kind of struggled while allowing the Giants to rack up 497 total yards. "I wouldn't say devastating, but it's a big blow. Don't get it twisted. You don't lose a guy like that and expect that you're going to win them all."

Most of the other Cowboys who didn't bolt for the back door before the media was allowed into the locker room tried to put on a brave face.

They talked about their belief in Jon Kitna, a veteran journeyman whom the Cowboys traded for after watching veteran journeyman Brad Johnson stink up the joint during a 1-2 Romo-less stretch during the disappointing 2008 season.

"We're lucky to have Jon," Romo said. "He's had a lot of success in the league. He's had some really, really great seasons. He's going to step in and he's going to do a great job for this football team. We're going to rally around Jon."

Maybe Kitna is an upgrade over the 2008 model of Johnson. But he didn't exactly inspire confidence while completing fewer than half his passes against the Giants. His stats (187 yards and two touchdowns) weren't terrible, but a lot of the yardage and both scores came during garbage time.

"I thought Kitna was rusty," said Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, whose farewell tour will last the next 10 weeks. "It just took him a while to get going. When he did, it gave us a chance."

Well, that's the optimistic way to look at it. A realistic view is that the 38-year-old Kitna was an average quarterback in his prime and has a career record of 46-69 as a starter.

Jones was right last week when he said the Cowboys would go as far as Romo took them.

Fans can ease the pain by watching the Texas Rangers in the World Series or pondering who the Cowboys can draft with a top-10 pick. The players have to play for pride.

"At this point in time, we've just got to do what teams that are 1-5 do," cornerback Terence Newman said. "That's to make every week like the Super Bowl."

That's as close as the Cowboys will come to playing in the real thing on their home field this winter.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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