Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys: Romo can prove his price is right

Romo can banish his demons on Sunday night

Tony Romo's recent play doesn't deserve its detractors, argues Romilly Evans. And the Cowboys' QB can set the record straight against the Skins

"One swallow does not make a summer - and one interception does not call for another winter of discontent"

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
Start-time: Monday, 01:30
TV: Live on Channel 4

For the $100m man that he is, Tony Romo still seems to have a vital component missing. There's not much wrong with his throwing arm, though.

Last week Romo went head-to-head with Peyton Manning - surely the most talented quarterback of recent history - in the fourth highest scoring game in league history. He even outperformed Manning The Elder with 470 yards through the air.
 
Yet, true to familiar fate, Romo still wound up on the losing side (51-48) and took the heat for a late interception which handed the match to the Denver Broncos. You had to feel for him. Another superb show undermined by one gaffe which coloured his heroic efforts with an indelible black mark. Champ-like statistics, chump-like in the clutch.
 
Only time will tell if this unfortunate pattern persists. Some will argue that the mislaid cog is in Romo's head, others that the whirring needle of luck must fall outside the red zone at some point. Either way, at least the unfairly maligned QB has a chance to atone with his Dallas Cowboys in another feature home fixture against the Washington Redskins this weekend.
 
There's nothing like a long-standing, bitter divisional rivalry to focus the mind and forget the past. And this encounter offers both Romo and the Cowboys Stadium faithful that opportunity. Indeed, in the substandard but competitive NFC East, it's all to play for despite no team having a positive record this season. Come the play-offs, it could well boil down to head-to-head tiebreakers, so a win here could earn the Cowboys a postseason berth.
 
Let's leave Romo and his receiving corps aside (they really did nothing wrong against Denver in a combined offensive stand that deserves to be revered not ridiculed). The real culprit, under my lights, was the defense who allowed nine of 13 third-down conversions, forced no punts and basically allowed Manning to live up to his towering reputation.
 
Instead, if Dallas are to save their season, the D needs to step up and become no respecter of reputation. And this is the perfect time to go after an admittedly capable Washington line, led by the twin-threat talents of Robert Griffin III.
 
RG3, however, has looked shaky and rusty since recovering from injury (missing pre-season practice) and while many will view the Skins' recent bye week as a plus, RG3 needs reps on gameday to get him up to speed. So if the Cowboys defense is ever going to stop him, this should be the Sunday.
 
Washington's lone victory this season came against lowly Oakland - as performance markers go, it rates a distant second to Dallas's latest loss to Denver. True, Griffin will doubtless sync his gears soon enough. All the more reason, therefore, to oppose him while he's comparatively cold and Romo is hot.
 
With the Redskin D giving up 28 points per game and receiving options like trusty Jason Witten and exciting wide man Dez Bryant proving as dependable as ever (numerous TDs in consecutive games), back Dallas with confidence to open up a game-winning lead before taking their foot off the gas.
 
Sure, the overs on Total Points will prove popular (the Skins' last five away fixtures have trended that way, as have six of the Cowboys' latest seven home ties), but the line is pitched accordingly at a "big number". Be a contrarian and play the unders instead.
 
One swallow does not make a summer. Similarly, one interception does not call for another winter of discontent in Dallas. Romo will learn from it. Indeed, he's arguably exercising the best decision-making of his career. With no Manning in opposition, expect him to choose discretion as the better part of valour in final quarter.
 
Recommended Bets
Back Dallas Cowboys to win on the Moneyline @ 1.422/5 or better
Back Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.9210/11 or better
Back Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 1.824/5 or better
Back Under 52.5 Total Points @ 2.01/1 or better
Back J.Witten to score First Touchdown @ 7.0 or better

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