Every year, big-name players choose to walk away from the game. Some opt to hang up their cleats early in their NFL careers; others decide that the wear and tear on their bodies, caused by season after season of nonstop abuse, is no longer worth the trouble. Either way, in the end, a single truth remains — no one can play forever. And Tony Romo finally came to this realization.
After spending his entire career (2004–16) with the Dallas Cowboys, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback is heading to the broadcast booth to become CBS’s lead NFL analyst. In a statement in which he discussed becoming the network’s No. 1 color commentator — it’s been real, Phil Simms — where he will work alongside veteran play-by-play announcer, Jim Nantz, Romo said:
Going from one legendary team to another as I begin the next phase of my career is a dream come true. I have always known that once my playing career was over I wanted to become a broadcaster. I am ecstatic for the opportunity to work with Jim as I learn the craft and convey to fans my passion for this great game.
In honor of No. 9’s decision to step away from the game, we remember some of his finest performances. With that, here’s a look at the 10 best games of Romo’s career.
10. Dallas at Arizona (Nov. 12, 2006)
On November 12, 2006, in a Week 10 showdown with the Arizona Cardinals, Romo removed all doubt that he was the right man to lead the Dallas Cowboys for the foreseeable future. On this afternoon at the University of Phoenix, the young signal caller completed 20 of 29 passes for 308 yards — his first career 300-yard passing performance — and two touchdowns, finishing the game with a 126.8 passer rating. The ‘Boys won the contest 27-10, and the Romo era was officially underway.
9. Dallas at New York Giants (Sept. 5, 2012)
After suffering a season-ending defeat to the New York Giants in 2011, the Cowboys got their revenge in the 2012 season opener. Despite facing heavy pressure all night, Romo completed 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns (and one interception). He led Dallas to a hard-fought 24-17 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Talk about starting the year off on the right foot.
8. Philadelphia at Dallas (Jan. 9, 2010)
With No. 9 leading the charge, the Cowboys absolutely blasted the Philadelphia Eagles 34-14 in the wild-card round of the 2009 playoffs. Romo finished the game with a passer rating of 104.9 and picked apart the Eagles defense to the tune of 244 passing yards and two touchdowns. The win marked the first playoff victory of his career, and gave the Cowboys their first postseason win in 13 years.
7. Detroit at Dallas (Jan. 4, 2015)
Down 17-7 to the Detroit Lions at halftime of the 2014 wild-card game, Romo led the Cowboys on a furious second-half comeback. The quarterback finished the game with 293 yards passing and two touchdowns, and Dallas rallied to win the affair 24-20. The victory gave Romo the 28th game-winning drive of his career.
6. New York Giants at Dallas (Dec. 11, 2011)
A 37-34 loss to the division rival Giants doesn’t diminish what Romo accomplished in this December showdown. He completed 67.7% of his passes, threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns, and finished the game with a whopping 141.3 passer rating. Ultimately, the G-Men squeaked out a narrow victory. However, without Romo’s brilliance, the game could’ve been a lot worse for the ‘Boys.
5. Green Bay at Dallas (Nov. 29, 2007)
In a showdown between the two best teams in the NFC, the Cowboys came away victorious. Without a brilliant effort from No. 9, however, the result might’ve turned out differently. Romo completed 19 of 30 passes, threw for 309 yards, four touchdowns and one pick, and led Dallas to an all-important 37-27 win. Those were the days.
4. Indianapolis at Dallas (Dec. 21, 2014)
Romo wasn’t perfect against the Colts on this day, but he was pretty damn close. No. 9 completed 18 of 20 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns, and finished the afternoon with a 151.7 passer rating. With this nearly flawless performance, Romo supplanted Troy Aikman as the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards. Oh, Dallas also won the contest in convincing fashion by the score of 42-7.
3. Dallas at New York Giants (Nov. 23, 2014)
Everyone remembers this game because Odell Beckham Jr. made one of the greatest catches of all time. However, thanks in large part to No. 9’s calm under pressure, the Cowboys came away with the most important prize of them all — the W. Romo had 275 yards passing and four touchdowns, including the game-winning strike to Dez Bryant with just over a minute left to play. Dallas pulled off the come-from-behind victory 31-28. Just another example of Tony being Tony.
2. Tampa Bay at Dallas (Nov. 23, 2006)
If Romo was nervous for his first-ever Thanksgiving Day game, he clearly didn’t show it. Instead, he made Tampa Bay wish their team never boarded the plane. In Dallas’ 38-10 shellacking of the Bucs, Romo completed 75.9% of his passes and threw for 306 yards and five touchdowns. We have a feeling the turkey tasted extra sweet for the quarterback that year.
1. Denver at Dallas (Oct. 6, 2013)
It’s not everyday that a quarterback’s best game comes in a loss in which they throw the game-sealing interception. Yet, in Romo’s case, that’s exactly what happened against the Denver Broncos on October 6, 2013. In this high-scoring 51-48 affair, the Cowboys quarterback completed 25 of 36 passes, threw for 506 yards and five touchdowns (and an interception), and finished the game with a 140 passer rating. Dallas might have lost the contest, but Romo put together the sort of superstar performance that fans won’t soon forget.