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.
Of course, the last time Romo was the holder was that faithful January night in 2007 (pictured above) at Qwest Field.
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 …
Ryan Divish/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
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.”