''You're always frustrated and disappointed when you don't play to what you feel like you're capable of. That was me last week. There's a lot of adversity you have to go through at different times, and if you keep plugging away, playing hard and just trying to get better, it'll come out the right way. ... This week was all about trying to execute better so we could come out and get a win.''
--Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys' quarterback, discussing his ability to bounce back from a last-minute loss to the New York Giants with a solid, but unspectacular 21-7 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Romo, who has been roundly criticized for his inability to win a playoff game for the Cowboys as well as his ability to put up great passing statistics (17 career 300- yard passing games) without scoring enough touchdowns, is on the hot seat in Dallas, a city that is hungry for a Super Bowl winner. Many people feel that he has been given too much notoriety for very little performance.
"Tony Romo was anointed as a star without doing anything in the NFL," said former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett.
"He's still young, still learning, growing," Dorsett added. "He's on that curve. It kind of reminds me of where the Giants were a couple years ago with Eli (Manning), who had a dominating guy on the offense in (since-traded tight end) Jeremy Shockey, similar to what was going on here with T.O. Now maybe his growth as a quarterback will speed up. He doesn't have this T.O. guy in his ear. I don't know exactly how much of an issue it was with T.O., because I wasn't there. But you sure heard a lot about it. So now that's gone."
"I thought Romo really was determined to be smart, relative to turnovers and was taking what was given to him," Jerry Jones, Cowboys' owner said after the Carolina game.
After throwing three interceptions against the Giants, Romo was careful with the football. Romo finished 22-of-32 for 255 yards and no interceptions.
Romo appears to be immune from the criticism and continues to try to learn and improve.
"The criticism is meaningless to me," Romo said about fallout from the Giants loss. "If I throw four TDs last week, everyone thinks you're amazing and might be this or that. It's the same as if people tell you you're no good. It doesn't matter. It's all about improving and doing it on the field."
"I am much tougher on myself than any of you guys ever will be," Romo told the media. "I have goals I hope to achieve as an individual and collectively as a group. I get frustrated and disappointed when I don't live up to what my standard is. That's why I come back with a purpose to improve. My sole focus this week was to understand why I did certain things and not make those mistakes again.
"Sometimes you have to go through the growing pains to get there."
For many Cowboy fans, their patience is wearing thin.
Excerpts from ESPN.com, Dallas Morning News and FoxSports.com, September 29, 2009.
For more on Peak Performance, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.