ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys figure their situation hasn’t really changed, even though their comeback came up short in an overtime loss.
They still have to win their season finale on the road against an NFC East rival — something they have failed to do twice in the past four seasons — to have a chance to get into the playoffs.
“The optimism will start probably 24 hours from now,” Romo said minutes after a 34-31 loss Sunday to the New Orleans Saints. “Right now, it’s tough thing to think about.”
Romo threw two of his four touchdowns in the final 3:35 of regulation, including a 19-yarder to Miles Austin with 15 seconds left.
But Dallas (8-7) stalled after gaining only 16 yards it only possession in overtime.
The Saints (7-8), whose playoff fate was finally sealed despite the victory, got a game-ending 20-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley on the play after Marcus Colston caught a pass, was stripped and the ball rolled more than 20 yards and was recovered by New Orleans at the 2.
The Cowboys, who had won three in a row, had control of their own playoff destiny before losing to the Saints.
“It is disappointing, but most anything that we were coming up with, we had to win the Washington game next weekend,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “But that’s not to say, as you saw, that we didn’t do everything we could possibly to win this ball game. But we just have to see how it sorts out.”
Dallas has to win next week at Washington (9-6), which beat Philadelphia 27-20. The Redskins have won six in a row, including a 38-31 win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
The NFC East title last season, and the NFC’s final playoff spot, was determined on New Year’s night when the Cowboys lost 31-14 at New York. The Giants finished the regular season 9-7, then went on to win their second Super Bowl title in five seasons.