For Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, there are no easy answers.
Study the Cowboys history and Romos name speckles the record book. He has thrown more touchdown passes than any Dallas quarterback other than Troy Aikman, and Romo will tie him with nine more.
Hes second in completions, fourth in attempts and is perhaps two games from passing Roger Staubach on the teams all-time passing yardage list. Romo has a better career passer rating than Peyton Manning and ranks fourth all-time.
Yet there is no championship on Romos resume, and the Cowboys have won one playoff game since 1996. In the same time period, the Carolina Panthers have won six playoff games and been to one Super Bowl.
Three weeks ago, Romo was intercepted five times in a loss to Chicago. Last Sunday, Romo completed 25 of 36 passes against Baltimore but the Cowboys had clock management problems in the final minute of a two-point loss.
Tony has been an outstanding player for us the last five or six years, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. I think every quarterback in the NFL plays under a microscope. Thats just the nature of where we are with this league.
Tony understands that. He just focuses on trying to do his job, in terms of his preparation and performance as best he can. Hes done some really good things for us this year. At other times, we havent been as good. Weve been behind in some games and hes been aggressive and turned the ball over a little bit. Thats the competitor in him.
The Cowboys arrive in Charlotte on Sunday with a 2-3 record and dragging a two-game losing streak with them. Theyre likely to be without running back DeMarco Murray, who is nursing a foot injury, but have Felix Jones in the backfield.
Like the Panthers, the Cowboys have been undermined by turnovers this season. The Cowboys have a minus-8 turnover margin while the Panthers are at minus-5.
For Romo, who has thrown nine interceptions and seven touchdown passes, the line between success and failure is slender.
No one person is going to ever be able to do enough to win a championship. You just cant do it. You see it this year with some of the best players in the leagues teams at .500 or worse, Romo said.
The NFL has so many good players that any given week the bounce of the ball can change the outcome. Thats why you have to put in so much time and effort and make it so important because that one bounce of the ball can change the direction of your team. You have to commit to it day in and day out. Playing the position of quarterback you love, playing it because you have the opportunity to control a lot of the game.
Garrett said its important for the Cowboys to be better overall to make Romo more effective.
There are 32 quarterbacks in the NFL and each of those guys are great competitors and they want to give their teams a chance to win. Tonys tried to do that for us, Garrett said.
For the most part, hes played very well if you take some of those mistakes away. Thats what were trying to do, to get better around him so he can play within the system and do his job so we can be a productive offense.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera likens Romo to future Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
He has a little bit of the gunslinger mentality, Rivera said. Hes got a strong arm, he makes quick decisions and he gets the ball out fast. He plays hard. He wants to win. Hes a guy that if they get rolling, get hot at the right time, they can do some things. Theyve won a lot of football games down there with him. Theyve lost some they probably shouldnt have but its all part of the game as well.
Theres no shortage of offensive explosiveness with the Cowboys. Theyre averaging 387.4 yards per game with Romo passing for an average of 287.8 yards per game. The combination of wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin with tight end Jason Witten is among the most formidable in the NFL.
Couple that with a defense that ranks second overall and first against the pass and the Cowboys 2-3 record is deceiving.
This is week is important because we both have a losing record right now and we both need to get going. The sense of urgency will be great on both sides of the ball this week, I know it, Romo said.