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Ahh, memories …

Post by Ryan Divish on Dec. 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm with 11 Comments »
December 10, 2009 12:37 pm
AP photo
AP photo

Why am I posting this photo? Most of you probably have heard this,  but it appears that Tony Romo has volunteered to go back to being the holder PATs and field goals for the Dallas Cowboys.

AP photo
AP photo

Of course, the last time Romo was the holder was that faithful January night in 2007 (pictured above) at Qwest Field.

AP photo
AP photo

It was the first NFL playoff game I’d ever covered and the intensity, the electricity, the noise were just unbelievable.

What are your memories from that night or that play in particular?

How quickly did your emotions change?

If you were at Qwest for that game, what was it like?

There are few plays I can recall where the momentum, the tone, the game itself switched so quickly. It seemed so routine, so simple, so automatic. But it wasn’t.

Since I was assigned to cover the Dallas locker room, I was already processing in mind that the Cowboys would win and possible angles to write about. And then Romo botched the snap, the Hawks won and I knew exactly what I would be writing about.  You could hear gasps in the press box when the play happened. And when Jordan Babineaux stopped him from reaching the end zone, the press box was alive with conversation as most of the perceived storylines would have to be adjusted if not scrapped.

I remember walking into the Cowboys locker room and seeing Romo hunched over in front of his locker weeping. He wasn’t sobbing or fighting back tears, he was weeping. It was surreal. I watched people like Jerry Jones, Terrell Owens, Calvin Hill and several others go over to try and console him, and it only made him cry harder. Later he walked out and met with media and as my friends like to say, “wore it.”

I wish I could link to my story, but our archive system is kind of dumb.

So here it is, if you have any interest in reading about it …


Tony Romo wasn’t hiding. But he wasn’t trying to be found. Hunched over in a chair in the corner of the Dallas locker room, the Cowboys quarterback barely could be spotted in the swirling mass of activity.

Sans shoulder pads, Romo kept his face buried in his hands, unwilling to show his tears and unwilling to look at the world around him – a world that suddenly seemed pretty cruel.

Just 10 minutes earlier, he’d helped lead the Cowboys to within moments of a go-ahead field goal and a likely NFC wild-card playoff victory.

But in the time it takes to catch a football and place it on its end, it was all taken away from Romo when he improbably lost control of the ball on Martin Gramatica’s 19-yard field-goal attempt.

“I didn’t catch the ball and I didn’t get it down,” a red-eyed Romo said in the postgame news conference. “It happened pretty quick and it obviously cost us the game.”

Well, not immediately. Romo showed enough wherewithal to grab the ball and sprint left toward the goal line hoping to at least get a first down. But his hopes, along with Dallas’, were crushed when Seattle’s Jordan Babineaux bulldogged him short of both.

“When I started to move I felt like there was a chance,” Romo said. “But I didn’t make it.”

In a game filled with strange plays, Romo’s gaffe might have been the strangest. Before he ever took a regular-season snap as a quarterback for the Cowboys, Romo took snaps as Dallas’ holder for field goals and point-after attempts.

His first time as holder came in the second quarter of the 2004 season opener when the Cowboys botched a snap on a field goal. He has been the holder for every Dallas field goal and PAT since. And he’s done the job without incident.

“I can’t remember the last time,” Romo said of a botched hold.

Neither can Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.

“He’s been the holder all year and I don’t think we had a (botched hold),” Parcells said.

Although he’s handled the holding duties for basically three seasons, Romo is perhaps the only current starting quarterback in the NFL doing it. Romo was good at it.

Dallas kicker Gramatica counts Romo as one the best holders he’s had in seven years of kicking in the NFL.

“Tony’s an awesome holder,” Gramatica said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anyone that’s held for me before. You feel bad when it happens to such a great guy for the team, and he did so much for the team.”

Still, for most NFL teams, including the Seahawks, punters or backup quarterbacks handle the holding, not the starters. Romo hasn’t been a backup since the sixth game of the season, but it never stopped him from holding for kicks.

“I never thought about it before,” he said. “I guess I was under the impression that I would like to be the guy holding it just so I felt good about it.”

But he wasn’t feeling good after the loss. As he sobbed in despair, several people offered condolences including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and teammate Terrell Owens, who offered quiet words of encouragement to Romo.

“I told him not to hang his head because he’s made a lot of plays for us all year,” Owens said. “I just told him to hang in there.”

Admittedly, words offered Romo little solace.

“I don’t take much consolation right now,” Romo said. “I take responsibility for messing up at the end there, and it’s my fault. I cost the Dallas Cowboys a playoff win.”

Well, not entirely, as Owens pointed out.

“There were definitely a number of other opportunities during the course of the game,” Owens said. “It didn’t come down to one play.”

Realistically, the Cowboys might not have been in position for the field goal without Romo, whose 17-of-29 passing was good for 189 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton in the first half.

Of course, Romo did look like a quarterback playing in his first NFL playoff. Early passes wobbled short or sailed high as he struggled to find a rhythm.

A handful of drops hurt his completion percentage.

“Mixed reviews,” Parcells said of Romo’s performance. “But we were in position to win.”

Following his meteoric rise as the starting quarterback of the NFL’s most recognizable team early in the season, which earned him a Pro Bowl selection, Romo’s last five games were a slow descent from the new Troy Aikman to the new Quincy Carter.

“You know you are going to go through your ups and downs in this game for sure,” Romo said. “Obviously that has happened this year.”

Even his highest of highs can’t compare to the pain of his latest drop.

“I don’t know if I have felt this low at any point,” he said.

Romo finished the season 237-of-366 (65 percent) in passing for 3,092 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

As tears filled his eyes again during the postgame press conference, Romo talked it out as if it were therapy.

“You practice a lot of things and you think of a lot of things that dictate the outcomes of the game,” Romo said. “You normally don’t think that is going to be the cause of the end.”

And Romo wouldn’t allow anyone else to shoulder the blame for that end.

“For it to end like that and for me to be the cause is very tough to swallow right now,” Romo said.

It’s not something he figures he can or will swallow quickly.

“I am usually a guy who challenges himself consistently,” he said. “I think at some point, I don’t know when, and it won’t be any time soon, I will move on and get ready for next season.”

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Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. madpunter88 says:

    That was a well-written story. The amazing thing about that article was how conciliatory Terrell Owens was…was that really what he said? By the next season he was quite critical of Romo. Owens really is unpredictable.

    Simply put, it was as exciting a moment as you’ll get in football. It was amazing to suddenly have new life infused into the team’s season. But, I recall feeling like stopping them for the FG attempt was a minor victory in itself. I remember feeling like there was enough time left for Hasselbeck to drive the Seahawks down for their own go-ahead kick — all was not lost the moment the Cowboys lined up for the kick. Maybe that was wishful thinking but I still had faith.

    Remarkably, botching the snap could have been fortuitous had Romo just gotten a few more feet and gotten the first down. Then they could have run out the clock and kicked the go-ahead FG. Romo didn’t lose the game so much as Babineaux won it at that point.

    Big Play Babs was the hero of the moment. In fact, some might argue his career was made that day.

  2. hardens_quickly says:

    The thing I remember is that I really wanted someone to ask Terrell Owens after the game what it felt like to be shut down by a bunch of unknown cornerbacks, especially Pete Hunter who got off his couch earlier in the week.

  3. I completely forgot about Pete Hunter. Wasn’t there another guy that was like a hunting guide that the Hawks picked up to play special teams the week before?

  4. Dukeshire says:

    Nice article Ryan. Man, that was an amazing game. I remember being in Las Vegas at the time and when that ball slid through his fingers, I exploded. Just screaming in the middle of the Green Valley Ranch sports book, “GET ‘EM BABS!!!” Oh, yes, that was nice. I also remember feeling like I wanted to be no other place than back home in the NW. What an amazing memory.

  5. madpunter88 says:

    Pete Hunter was quite a fan favorite on this blog that season. I think everyone was really hoping he’d make the team outright the following season.

    There ought to be a “Where Are They Now” feature on this blog in the off season. Pete Hunter? Lamar King? Marcus Tubbs? Brandon Coutu (what, too soon?)

  6. I was at a small town pub and watched the game with two buddies and my old Curt Warner jersey. After the kick incident, I jumped up and down and ran around the bar whooping it up. And contrary to what you may think, it certainly wasn’t because I had too many to drink. Beating the Cowboys made it even more meaningful.

  7. madpunter88,
    That is a good idea, I’ll mention to Eric

  8. In case anyone needs a reminder, youtube comes in handy.

    This video is not the broadcast tape, it’s from a fans perspective, and is the closest thing to actually having been at the game. Still gives me chills when I watch babs make the tackle and hear the crowd roar,. Turn up the volume and enjoy..

  9. Seahawkman76 says:

    I was in the Hawks Nest, right on top of the play. Everyone was booing and trying to do what we could for a missed FG. It was probably one of the loudest moments in Qwest Field history. The snap came, and as soon as Romo dropped the ball, it felt like a sudden silence over the stadium…I have described it to everyone as 67,000 heartbeats watching a slow motion video in Charlie Brown-esq Romo trying to scoot to the endzone. Wah-Wah…you get the picture. I was thinking “their gonna get a TD out of this sh*t, TYPICAL!”, and then Babineaux tackled him at the 2, Wistrom with the recovery….THE PLACE IMMEDIATELY WENT INTO PANDEMONIUM! Besides the NFC Championship, 2nd best feeling at Qwest ever.

    By the way, my defense has always been that even if the Cowgirls had hit the FG, we have Hass, one of the best two-minute warning QB’s there is, down 23-21.

  10. scottiedog65 says:

    I remeber being in section 319 on the opposite side of the field. We were all standing up that whole Cowboy drive trying to urge a stop. When it was 4th down I turned to my brother standinging next to me and said, “I’ll bet Rocky blasts through the line and blocks it”. Then it happened. At first we were too far away to see that Romo dropped it. When I saw him start running to the left I new something was up. We started jumping and my brother yells, “Oh f#@*, he’s gonna score!”. Then Babs tracks him down and I remember yelling so loud that I lost my breath for a few minutes. (Had just quit smoking too so that didn’t help.) It was the last time I saw Qwest in total hysteria.

  11. I was also in the hawks nest, so I had a chance to watch the entire play unfold in our endzone. It was excruciating begging for a turnover as the cowboys were driving down the field. It wad an overall feeling of pure dread as they were inching closer and that feeling was palpable. In our “family” of season ticketholders that we see every other Sunday everyone kinda exchanged looks to eachother of disbelief that we were gonna end our season this way and not see eachother for another nine months.

    As the kicking squad came out everyone leaned forward on their toes and the place exploded. It was as if every soul surrounding us felt that if they yelled loud enough, if they willed hard enough, the kicker would miss like jay feely with the giants in 05. As Eric said it was pure electricity running through everyones veins. Then all of the sudden someone closed the breaker and the power shut off, the noise immediately ceased. Tony Romo fumbled the snap. I was thinking “oh god it’s a fake” Tony had open space and about 8 unchallenged yards to the NFC playoffs. I think everyone was thinking or sayin NO aloud. All of the sudden one lone seahawk grabbed some ankle and stopped him just short. Everyone absolutely exploded, jumped on eachother hugged eachother, hi fives eachother. It was dejection, dread, empowerment, confusion, desperation, surprise and pure joy all rolled up in about 2 minutes that felt like an eternity.

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