You can’t really ask for a better narrative fit for a player’s career than Tony Romo wearing goat horns after the best day of his career.
On his first 35 throws, Romo completed 25 passes for 506 yards and five touchdowns to keep the Cowboys in a duel with the Broncos on a day when Peyton Manning threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns. On his 36th throw, Romo made his first mistake of the day.
Romo was picked off by Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan on a pass intended for Gavin Escobar and the Broncos were set up on the Cowboys’ 24-yard line with 1:57 to play. The Broncos picked up two first downs, got the ball into position for a 28-yard Matt Prater field goal and walked out of Dallas with a 51-48 victory that will go down as one of the most prolific scoring games in NFL history.
It’s the fourth time that two teams have both reached 48 points (while combining for 1,039 yards) in the same game and Romo’s performance is good for the 12th-best passing day in history. It’s also the most passing yards in Cowboys history, although that’s a hollow record given the way the game ended.
Romo doesn’t deserve the horns by himself, of course. You have to reserve some for a defense that got run over for most of the day and any negativity toward Romo has to be mitigated by the way he kept the Cowboys in the game. Romo completed deep passes, short passes and everything in between, often after extending a play by evading pass rushers and finding a receiver down the field. It was a masterful performance right up until the last throw, something that shouldn’t but probably will be given short shrift in the aftermath of this thriller.
One mistake can be all it takes when you’re playing a team that scores as easily as Denver, though. Their defense was abysmal on Sunday, but it might not matter until there’s a defense that’s more than that on the other side of the ball. There wasn’t on Sunday, so the Broncos are 5-0.