Tony Romo, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys: After throwing 13 interceptions in the first seven games of the season, Romo had been better with his ball security, throwing just three interceptions total during an eight-game stretch where the Cowboys went 5-3 and worked their way back into the playoff picture. Needing a win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday night to win an NFC East title, Romo threw interceptions on both of the Cowboys' first-quarter drives, both of which occurring inside Redskins' territory. "Good" Romo would shake those two picks off and play fairly well in the middle portion of the game, btu "Bad Romo" took over late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by three points with just over three minutes remaining and all three timeouts in their back pocket, Romo underthrew a pass to running back DeMarco Murray in the left flat, which was intercepted by linebacker Rob Jackson at the Cowboys' 27-yard line. The Redskins chewed up nearly two minutes of the game clock with a game-sealing touchdown drive, ending the Cowboys' season and raising questions about Romo's ability to win "the big one". Romo, who turns 33 in the offseason, is now 1-6 in "win or go home" games.
Matt Schaub, quarterback, Houston Texans: Before the start of the regular season, the Texans showed their faith in Schaub by signing the veteran to a four-year, $62 million contract extension that contained over $25 million in guaranteed money. As the franchise prepares for its second trip to the playoffs, the biggest question mark on the roster is Schaub. Once 11-1 and cruising towards a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs, the Texans lost three of their last four games in 2012, a stretch of games where the offense scored just four touchdowns, one of which from the right arm of Schaub, who was intercepted twice in Sunday's 28-16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, an "L" that ultimately knocked the Texans to the No. 3 seed in the AFC Playoffs.
Mike Smith, head coach, Atlanta Falcons: Aside from finishing the 2012 regular season with a winning record within the NFC South, the Falcons had nothing to play for on Sunday after clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs in Week 16. Smith decided to not rest his starters and go for the win in the meaningless regular season finale. Not only would the Falcons lose 22-17, at home, to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that had lost five straight entering Sunday, cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered another head injury six plays into the game. Robinson's early injury would not deter Smith from his goal, keeping the key players into the game for the duration of the game. (Matt Ryan played all 63 offensive snaps and Roddy White, who has been hampered by a knee injury, played all but one snap on Sunday) In the fourth quarter, defensive end John Abraham, who is the Falcons' pass rush, suffered a left ankle injury and was carted off the field.
Smith expects Robinson and Abraham to be fine for the divisional playoffs, but there was absolutely no reason for the 34-year-old Abraham to be on the field at that point of the game. These are the types of games you give players like Lawrence Sidbury - who had five snaps on special teams on Sunday - some playing time on defense, Coach. If Robinson and/or Abraham is less than 100 percent for the Divisional Playoffs game, and the Falcons are "one and done" in the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons under Smith, fans in Atlanta will be second-guessing the most successful coach in franchise history.
Mark Sanchez, quarterback, New York Jets: Sanchez finished his 2012 regular season in typical Mark Sanchez fashion. Facing one of the NFL's worst defenses, Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts (17-of-35) for 205 yards and an interception, which of course was thrown when the 2009 first-round pick out of USC attempted to squeeze a ball into triple coverage. Sanchez also lost a fumble late in the third quarter, comically completing his throwing motion without the ball in his hand.
The Philadelphia Eagles: A miserable season and the Andy Reid Era came to an end in a game where most of the Eagles players failed to show up in a game where they could have ended the playoff hopes of a bitter division rival. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was intercepted by Stevie Brown five plays into the game as the Giants opened up a 21-0 first quarter lead on their way to a 42-7 blowout win. Playing in what was likely his final game as an Eagle, Vick completed 19-of-35 attempts for 197 yards with a touchdown and the aforementioned interception before giving way to Trent Edwards. Another Eagles player who landed on the bench was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the team's second-highest paid player in 2012 who is also due $15 million in 2013, including $4 million that is fully guaranteed with no offsets.