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NFL Judgements: Another oh-no by Romo

The SportsXchange

And that, folks, is why people don't trust the Dallas Cowboys or their quarterback.

On an afternoon when Tony Romo threw for a career-best 506 yards and had the Cowboys this close to pulling off an improbable upset of the Denver Broncos, he did what he does all too often: commit a game-deciding mistake.

Romo's interception late in the Broncos' 51-48 victory determined the outcome, and while interceptions happen, they happen too often to Romo in big games.

In each of the past two years, for instance, he and the Cowboys had an opportunity to win the NFC East on the last day of the season ... and twice they failed. One reason: Romo. He committed five turnovers in those contests.

Yes, the guy is talented. Yes, he was sensational Sunday. Yes, he was the reason the Cowboys fought back. But, no, he cannot be considered an elite quarterback until he does something more than go 1-3 in the playoffs and fail to close out seasons ... or big games.

2. Memo to Drew Brees: Drop Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer a thank-you note. Thanks to Zimmer's defense ... and a fourth-quarter monsoon ... Tom Brady's record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at 52, two short of Brees' NFL mark.

3. Maybe that performance will put Zimmer back on the radar for future head-coach vacancies. It should. The Bengals limited New England to 1-of-12 success on third-down conversions and held the Patriots without a touchdown. As impressive, Cincinnati allowed Brady to complete only one of his last 10 passes. The Bengals also sacked him once in that span and made a game-ending interception.

4. No, that is not a typo in the standings. Those are the Arizona Cardinals in second place in the NFC West. So they are an ugly 3-2, with unimpressive victories over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers the past two weeks. Big deal. A win is a win, and the Cardinals find out how they measure up in the division the next 11 days when they play the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

5. With Ryan Tannehill you get the good and the bad ... and the Miami Dolphins got both on their last series Sunday. The good: a marvelous 46-yard completion on fourth-and-10 with 1:30 to go, with Tannehill rolling to his left. The bad: Taking a killer sack two plays later.

6. Here is a familiar sentence: Michael Vick is hurt.

7. Time to make New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan one of the early front-runners for Assistant of the Year.

8. The Tennessee Titans committed no turnovers in four games with Jake Locker. They gave the ball away three times in one game with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Connect the dots.

9. Best catch of the afternoon wasn't by a receiver, it was by Philadelphia defensive back Brandon Boykin. Check out his fourth-quarter interception to rob Victor Cruz, and tell me how he kept the ball from hitting the ground.

10. Guess we found out how valuable ... or invaluable ... Calvin Johnson is to the Detroit Lions.

11. Good news, Chicago fans: The Bears' next two games are vs. the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, teams with a combined 1-8 record. Then Chicago gets a bye.

12. People wonder when the heat will get turned up on Giants coach Tom Coughlin, but the pressure is not on Coughlin, it is on general manager Jerry Reese. The Giants don't have enough decent players and are remarkably thin at key positions.

13. Yes, that was a huge victory for Cincinnati, in part because it was coach Marvin Lewis' first win over New England in five tries. OK, so it is a small step. It is a step.

14. When Cleveland peddled away Trent Richardson, it was supposed to be a signal that the Browns were giving up on the season. Cleveland is 3-0 since.

15. It doesn't matter what the spread is for the Jacksonville Jaguars' game at Denver next weekend. It can't be high enough.

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED

1. Indianapolis is legit. The Colts have victories over San Francisco and Seattle -- with the win against the 49ers at Candlestick Park -- and that makes them a serious Super Bowl contender.

2. It doesn't matter what division the Giants play in; they are going nowhere. So they are only two games out of first in the league's worst division. It doesn't matter. They flat-out stink, and with Chicago up next on Thursday, there is no relief in sight.

3. New Orleans may be the team to beat in the NFC. The Saints are unbeaten, and they are well balanced, winning with offense -- OK, Drew Brees -- and defense.

4. Don't give up on Baltimore. The Ravens have not missed the playoffs under John Harbaugh, and they are supposed to be vulnerable this season without Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. However, they recorded a big victory in Miami, and it was accomplished the old-fashioned way -- with Ray Rice, not Joe Flacco, leading the way.

5. Denver is not bullet-proof after all. Yes, the Broncos won another to remain unbeaten. Still, the Cowboys threw a scare into them and gave others hope that maybe, just maybe, they can exploit Denver's secondary.

JUST ASKING BUT ...

When Antrel Rolle last week said the Giants could "run the table," what table was he talking about?

Forget Peyton Manning. What got into Knowshon Moreno?

Does it matter who wins the NFC East?

What happens first -- a Denver loss or peace in the Mideast?

What is going on with Cam Newton?

FIVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO

1. Dallas QB Tony Romo. First, he takes a sack on the Cowboys' last series. Then he throws the fatal interception. Why is it always Groundhog Day with this guy?

2. Cincinnati S Chris Crocker. He is the guy who jumped offside on fourth-and-4 at the New England 41, keeping a last-gasp New England drive alive. It was a potentially game-changing mistake, especially after Cincinnati added a personal foul for roughing the passer. Fortunately for Crocker, it was not, with Adam Jones coming to the rescue.

3. Chicago LB Lance Briggs. He pulled a Crocker and jumped offside on fourth-and-1 with five minutes left and the Bears desperate to get the football back. Briggs is an 11-year veteran, and he should be smart enough not to fall for a Drew Brees hard count there. But he wasn't ... even though New Orleans unsuccessfully attempted to sucker him and his teammates earlier.

4. Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs. Last week, Suggs claimed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ordered the lights turned out in Super Bowl XLVII. Yeah, sure. Oh, and this just in, Terrell: The earth is flat, too.

5. Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert. There are bad throws, then there are gawd-awful throws. Gabbert had two of the latter in another Jacksonville loss. The first was returned 82 yards for a touchdown; the second ended a goal-line series. Both are more evidence why Jacksonville must look for another quarterback in the 2014 draft.

NUMBERS THAT MAY MEAN SOMETHING

--3 -- Blaine Gabbert interceptions returned for touchdowns this season

--3 -- 400-yard passers vs. Dallas this year

--3-10 -- The Giants' record over their past 13 games

--7 -- Sacks allowed by Carolina

--9 -- Game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime for Andrew Luck

--14-1 -- Mike McCarthy's record vs. Detroit

--15-6 -- Andrew Luck's regular-season record

--21-7 -- Joe Flacco's record after losses

--23 -- Consecutive Detroit losses in Wisconsin

--61 -- Opponents' points off Giants turnovers

--2003 -- Last time Kansas City was 5-0

NEXT WEEKEND'S BEST GAMES

New Orleans at New England

Green Bay at Baltimore

Indianapolis at San Diego

-- Clark Judge, a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange, has covered pro football since 1982 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selections Committee.
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