All week long, Tony Romo has had to deal with the harsh words of his critics--media and fans alike.
Can't win the big one. Can't win in the fourth quarter. Folds like a cheap lawn chair.
No focus. No heart. No grit.
Gives up too easily.
At first, it appeared that Romo would prove the critics right. It didn't seem that his head was in the game. Passes falling short, or sailing wide. Making people wonder just exactly who he was throwing the ball to. Looking confused, clueless, Romo blundered through the first half as if he'd never played the game before.
Halftime X-rays revealed the broken rib. A Monday morning CT scan revealed the punctured lung.
A pneumothorax it's called--a collapsed lung.
It was later revealed that the injury occurred on the third play of the game. The man played the entire first half of the game with a broken rib and a collapsed lung.
He couldn't take a deep breath. And it hurt. Breathing hurt. Shouting plays hurt. Throwing the ball was sheer torture. Getting hit by a defensive lineman was indescribable agony. It is reported that at one point, the pain was so great he was puking on the sidelines.
Yet he played on.
He ran late onto the field after halftime, and was quickly corralled by medical personnel. They took him back to the locker room-- frustration evident on the quarterback's face. With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, Romo once again trotted out from the locker room. He was going to play, and no one would be able to stop him.
The medical personnel hid his helmet from him.
He found it.
Head coach and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett physically restrained him.
Romo shoved him aside.
This was his team. This was his game. This was his Titanic. If the ship was going down, the captain was going down with it.
Determined to finish the game, Romo headed out onto the field. Down by two scores midway through the 4th quarter, Romo threw a strike to Miles Austin, who made an almost superhuman leap into the endzone.
A Dan Bailey field goal with 4 seconds left in regulation play tied the score, and sent the game into overtime, where another Dan Bailey field goal sealed the victory.
Yes, it was an amazing comeback under the best of circumstances. That Tony Romo did it with a punctured lung made it nothing short of miraculous.
Now, no one can question his heart.
No one can question his determination to win.
No one can question his dedication to the team--and to the game.
No one can question his toughness.
At least not until he loses again. Then he will go back to being the worst to ever play the game.
Because that's what it means to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.