Tom Brady and the New England Patriots may have won the AFC championship game, but Tony Romo owned it.
As has been his style since retiring from the Dallas Cowboys and donning a CBS blazer, Romo’s mix of enthusiasm and clairvoyance stood out during the Patriots' 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night.
As Eagles defender Chris Long succinctly put it, Romo had “miss Cleo in his earpiece,” a reference to the late Youree Dell Harris, a TV spokesperson for a psychic service.
Andy Reid could have used Romo on his defensive staff, because the former quarterback knew just about every play the Patriots were going to run down the stretch, right down to a fourth-and-one play late in the fourth quarter that ended as a New England touchdown.
“Oh, they’re killing it. Usually means a motion and a run out wide to the right,” Romo said seconds before the Patriots did just that.
Later in the fourth quarter, as the Patriots faced an important third down, Romo pointed out that tight end Rob Gronkowski was lined up as a wide receiver. “He’s your guy when it’s one-on-one. They finally got him, there he is,” Romo said, just before Brady completed a 25-yard pass to his Pro Bowl tight end.
In overtime, the Patriots faced several key third-down plays, and on just about every one Romo correctly predicted where New England would be going with the football, including the game-winning touchdown.
“New England tried the play-action earlier. I can’t see it here. This has to be a run,” Romo predicted, as Brady handed the ball to Rex Burkhead, who ran it into the end zone.
Even Washington Nationals free agent Bryce Harper (who has been flirting with the Phillies for the past month) hailed Romo’s psychic abilities.
Often overlooked as playing an important role in Romo’s success is his play-by-play partner Jim Nantz, who also called a terrific game. Not only did Nantz continually set Romo up to make his predictions and analysis prior to the snap, he steered clear of any potential jinx of Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker as he attempted to tie the game at the end of regulation.
“Well, you can see the graphic. What he’s done here at home,” Nantz said as CBS displayed a graphic showing Butker had never missed a field goal inside 40 yards at Arrowhead Stadium.
Next up for Romo and Nantz is the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in Atlanta, which both will call on CBS. Romo never made it to the Super Bowl as a player, but the second-year broadcaster will now begin to prepare to call the biggest game of his television career before an audience of more than 100 million viewers.
“I don’t know really know how I’m going to feel until that day, but I think there’s always a little bit of nervousness before every game, whether you’re a player or an announcer,” Romo said at a CBS press event for the Super Bowl earlier this month.