Sunday night represented an opportunity for Tony Romo to alter an unflattering reputation. Instead, he might have cemented it.
Romo came up flat in one of the biggest games of his NFL career, throwing three interceptions in the Cowboys' 28-18 loss to the Washington Redskins. For the second consecutive year, Dallas failed in a win-or-go-home scenario against a division rival. It doesn't get much more painful than this.
"It just hurts a lot right now to even think about and talk about," Romo said. "I wanted that game for a lot of people, for a lot of people who put a lot into it. It's just very frustrating."
Romo entered this game playing some of the best football of his career. He was brilliant during an overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday and had thrown 10 touchdown passes against only one interception in four December games.
But Romo wasn't nearly as sharp against the Redskins, completing 20 of 37 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns with the three picks. The Redskins aggressively went after Romo, blitzing him early and often. The Cowboys couldn't adjust.
It was the Redskins' incessant blitzing that led to the Romo turnover that doomed the Cowboys. Trailing 21-18 with 3:06 to play, Romo was fooled by Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson, who faked a blitz, then peeled into coverage to intercept a pass intended for DeMarco Murray. Washington took over and turned the interception into seven points. Game over.
"That will eat at me for weeks now," Romo said.
Romo played parts of this game without wide receivers Miles Austin (ankle) and Dez Bryant (back), but Romo won't -- and shouldn't -- escape blame here. The Cowboys have lost six of seven elimination games during the Romo era, including an 0-3 record in the regular season.
The Cowboys again failed in a big spot. With Romo under center, it has become a broken record Dallas can't seem to pull the needle off.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.