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Playing Through the Pain

Tony Romo's gutsy performance Sunday was an all-timer. The amount of criticism mounted on his shoulders, the double-digit deficit, and the reality of starting 0-2 were only outdone by the fact that he had cracked ribs and a collapsed lung.

The Dallas quarterback deserves the credit he's getting, but he's just one in a pantheon of players who've played through intense pain when the stakes were high.

NFL history is chalk full of gutsy performances. Some have been season-long displays of toughness, like Steve McNair winning the 2003 co-MVP while playing through enough injuries to fill a Reader's Digest feature on the human body. Or Dan Pastorini – the former Houston Oilers quarterback – who played down the stretch with only a flak jacket between his broken ribs and defensive linemen.

Here are a few other examples of when guts and pain tolerance were as important as talent when the stakes were high.

Elliot Harrison Analyst