Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Romo a no-go for Cowboys' last gasp

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IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo's season is over, and the Dallas Cowboys will have to win without their star quarterback in a third straight playoffs-or-bust finale.

Coach Jason Garrett said Romo had back surgery Friday, and Kyle Orton will start when Dallas faces Philadelphia on Sunday night with the NFC East title and a post-season berth on the line.

Garrett said Romo underwent treatment all week in hopes of playing after injuring his back in a season-saving 24-23 victory against Washington. The winning touchdown came after the injury on Romo's fourth-down pass to DeMarco Murray in the final 2 minutes.

Romo hurt himself when he tripped over his foot trying to escape pressure earlier in the fourth quarter.

"He might have had his finest hour against the Redskins last week, what he did at the end of that ballgame under the circumstances," Garrett said. "Pretty special."

Romo lost the past two winner-take-all finales -- to the New York Giants two years ago and Washington last season. He also lost to the Eagles in the same situation in 2008 and now will miss a chance to improve his 1-6 record in elimination games.

"He's devastated," Garrett said. "Devastated. He puts a lot into this."

Philadelphia (9-6) is trying to complete a worst-to-first turnaround from a 4-12 season under first-year coach Chip Kelly. The Cowboys (8-7) want to end a three-year playoff drought and avoid a third 8-8 finish in Garrett's three full seasons as coach.

Dallas will have to do it without its defensive leader, too. Linebacker Sean Lee will miss his third straight game with a sprained neck. He'll wind up sidelined for five of the last six regular-season games. He was out for two with a hamstring injury.

Lee was forced to watch last year's season-ending loss to the Redskins with a toe injury sustained in the sixth game.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show that the team and Romo hoped an injection would ease the pain enough to allow him to play. But his condition didn't improve, and Jones said doctors advised it was better not to wait for surgery.

Jones said the hope is that Romo will be ready for off-season practices in May.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 28, 2013 C7

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