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Cowboys' Tony Romo will be on IR; Kyle Orton to start

Tony Romo's status is no longer a mystery. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett announced Friday that Romo underwent back surgery in the morning and will be placed on injured reserve.

Garrett confirmed that Kyle Orton will start at quarterback for the Cowboys in their win-and-in game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

"We spent the week exhausting all options regarding Tony's situation, treatment, rehab all the different things. We consulted a lot of different people on this," Garrett said. "We just felt like, as we discussed it, as yesterday wore on, that this was the best decision for him and our organization moving forward. We felt like it was better to have this done sooner rather than later."

The timing of Romo's surgery is a surprise, but his status for Sunday is not. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Romo was unlikely to suit up this week because of the herniated disk in his back.

NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that the timetable for Romo's recovery is about four months, according to a Cowboys source. Garrett would not give a timetable for Romo's recovery, and he said the team believed Romo's current back surgery was "unrelated" to the surgery he underwent eight months ago. Owner Jerry Jones later said on KRLD-FM that the team is hopeful Romo will be ready for organized team activities.

Garrett told NFL Media's Desmond Purnell that Romo was "devastated" by the news. The Cowboys' season has ended three separate times by losing decisive Week 17 games, and now Romo won't even get to play in this one. It's somehow sadly fitting for Romo's star-crossed career that one of his finest moments -- last Sunday's comeback in Washington after suffering the injury -- is followed by this crushing news.

As for why Romo wasn't listed on the injury report before the Week 16 game, the NFL said that is under review, Rapoport reported.

Jones spoke this week of his faith in Orton. The team gave Orton a $5 million signing bonus to be the team's backup for a reason, and he is a solid option. Jon Kitna, just signed from the Lincoln High School practice squad, will back up Orton.

Still, Dallas will be an underdog Sunday, and would have been even with Romo in the lineup. The Cowboys need their offense to be truly great to make up for one of the worst defenses in football. It's hard to imagine them breaking their Week 17 slump now.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" broke down the playoff picture and filled out our Pro Bowl ballots.

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