The Norman Transcript

National Sports

December 22, 2013

Cowboys try to end December slump against Redskins

WASHINGTON — Shut down a healthy quarterback in December so he can have remedial offseason work? Sounds like a solution for Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys are teetering toward another late-season collapse, thanks in part to Romo’s decision to turn a run into a pass. Romo converted an eat-the-clock moment into a tide-turning interception in the waning minutes of last week’s one-point loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Now the Cowboys, who blew a 23-point lead in that game, would be eliminated from playoff contention Sunday if they lose to the Washington Redskins and the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Bears.

On the other hand, the Cowboys (7-7) still control their postseason chances. A victory today sets up a winner-take-all regular-season finale against the Eagles next week.

It’s a familiar cliffhanger refrain. The Cowboys dropped four of their last five in 2011 and their last two in 2012, finishing 8-8 both times and a just a smidgen out of the playoffs.

Dallas coach Jason Garrett said he won’t “directly” address the recent history. He doesn’t need to.

“We certainly understand the situation that we’re in,” Garrett said, “and you have to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Here are five things to notice as the Cowboys visit the archrival Redskins (3-11), the team that actually has shut down its franchise quarterback — Robert Griffin III — so that he’ll be healthy when he works on his game in the offseason:

Romo’s struggles: The Cowboys QB is riding a four-game December losing streak and is 13-21 all-time as a starter in December and January. He’s not the only thing holding Dallas back — the defense is the worst in the NFL — but another loss Sunday will only harden his dubious legacy as a player who falters at crunch time.

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