Sportress of Blogitude

Jerry Jones defends call to allow an injured Tony Romo back in Monday’s game

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Heading into Monday night’s showdown with the Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Sitting at 6-1 and on a six-game winning streak, the team was quickly becoming the talk and toast of the NFL.

Things of course went awry with Monday’s game. Not only did the Cowboys lose in heartbreaking fashion in overtime 23-20, Tony Romo, arguably enjoying the best season in his career, was knocked out of the game with a back injury.

Romo suffered the injury on a sack by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson midway through the third quarter.

After remaining on the AT&T Stadium turf being attended to by the Cowboys medical staff for several minutes, Romo ultimately was able to leave the field on his own before being taken back to the locker room for examination.

It was later reported that Romo had only suffered a back contusion, but it was nevertheless somewhat shocking to see him reenter the game after the two-minute warning, replacing Brandon Weeden.

Any injury involving Romo’s surgically repaired back —  he underwent back surgery to treat a herniated intervertebral disc last December — should be of great concern for the Cowboys, which made the decision to allow him back in the game curious at best, inexplicable at worst.

But to ask Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, it made perfect sense to risk the long-term health of the team’s franchise quarterback, despite the fact that Weeden had been doing a decent job in relief of Romo and no game is out of reach with DeMarco Murray in the backfield … especially a game that is tied.

Still, Jones insisted afterward that putting an injured, gimpy Romo back on the field in the waning moments of a tie football game was the correct course of action.

“We knew there were no structural issues when they gave him the X-rays,” Jones said, according to the Star-Telegram. “I was very concerned the fact that he laid there as long as he laid there. After we looked at the play and saw that was a knee kind of to the side of the back, then we felt better about it.

“We got him in here and looked at it real carefully everybody felt better about it. But he was certainly limited when he first got in here, but he loosened it up real good and went back out.”

Despite the risky nature of the decision, Romo did not appear to further aggravate the injury, but it nevertheless calls into question who exactly should be making these kind of decisions, especially when Jones was spotted on the sideline in Jason Garrett’s ear — in the middle of heated game, no less — informing the head coach that Romo was going back into the game.

“I was here during the tail end of the examination and knew he planned to come back out and play if he were needed,” Jones said. “Of course he was needed. I felt good that he could come back out. When he saw the opportunity he did. I told Jason that he would be back in.”

Medical personnel should have had the final say-so on whether or not Romo should have went back into the game. Perhaps they did, but hearing Jones explain it, it sure seems like he, along with Romo, played significant roles in making the ultimate decision.

While a player should be consulted — but not given the final call — when making a determination of whether he should return to the field following an injury  — and Romo appeared to be adamantly arguing his case on the sidelines — having Jones hovering while all the options are being considered is not the ideal situation for the player nor the team.

The Cowboys very likely dodged a bullet on Monday night. Sure, they lost the battle in OT, but the war could have been lost as well. If Romo been injured more severely after being allowed back in the game, it was possible he could have been knocked out of commission for an extended period, perhaps even a few games.

Either way, it would have been a stretch of time much longer than a quarter-and-a-half.

(screenshot via Business Insider)