Despite a heartbreaking loss to the New Orleans Saints, Tony Romo still has one last chance to lead the Dallas Cowboys to the playoffs.
Garrett Hartley‘s winning 20-yard field goal in overtime on Sunday propelled the Saints past Cowboys by a final score of 34-31. But the game turned out to be meaningless to America’s Team’s postseason hopes.
Despite the Cowboys loss in a third straight game decided on the final play, the New York Giants 33-14 loss against the Baltimore Ravens later Sunday left Dallas in essentially the same position. Beat the Washington Redskins in next weekend’s finale and the Cowboys go to the postseason as NFC East champions.
“Even if we would have won today, we would have needed that game next week obviously,” said Dallas’ 32-year-old Mexican American quarterback, who threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns, including a 19-yarder to Miles Austin that tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation.
For the third time in five seasons, Dallas (8-7) can get to the playoffs by beating a division rival on the final day of the regular season. The Cowboys lost such games to the Giants last New Year’s night and to Philadelphia in 2008.
“I welcome that challenge,” said Romo. “I think we’ve improved in some areas since those two years.”
With just 1:29 remaining in the game, the Cowboys pulled within a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Romo to Dwayne Harris. Romo led the Cowboys 64 yards in seven plays, capped by the tying toss to Austin, who caught the ball on his knees in the end zone. It was Dallas’ third overtime game in the past five at home.
“There was no panic,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “It was almost like we knew the game would come down to something like this. We just wanted that opportunity and the defense gave it to us.”
Romo also had a pair of 58-yard scoring passes to Dez Bryant, who had a career-high 224 yards receiving. Romo was 26 of 43 and broke his own franchise record for passing yards in a season. He has 4,685.