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Tony Romo loses the ball, and the game, for the Cowboys

Tony Romo, Calvin Pace

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is sacked by New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace (97) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

AP

The Dallas Cowboys had a 24-17 lead over the New York Jets, and the ball at the Jets’ 2-yard line, with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter on Sunday night. A touchdown would have been nice, but even a field goal likely would have sealed the win for the Cowboys.

And then Tony Romo’s nightmare began.

Romo tried to run for a touchdown himself when he couldn’t find anyone open in the end zone, and not only did he not score, but he fumbled, and the Jets recovered. That fumble -- and an interception later in the fourth quarter when Darrelle Revis stepped in front of a pass Romo was trying to throw to Dez Bryant -- allowed the Jets to pull off a miraculous 27-24 come-from-behind win on Sunday night.

The Cowboys appeared to have the game in hand before Romo’s fumble, and Romo had been having a good game up until that point. Romo’s final numbers -- he completed 22 of 35 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns -- look like the numbers of a quarterback who had a big game. But those two fourth-quarter turnovers were the difference in this game.

Romo is far from the only one who deserves blame for the Cowboys losing a game they led 24-10 with 12 minutes to play, but his turnovers are what we’ll all be talking about on Monday morning. Romo came up short in crunch time, and the Cowboys are 0-1.