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 yesterday, and Kyle Orton will start when Dallas faces the Eagles tomorrow night with the NFC East title and a postseason 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 while 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."
Meanwhile, according to the Cowboys blog of the Dallas Morning News, the NFL will "look into" why Romo's name never appeared on the team's injury report last week, even though he never practiced.
"We will look into it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to the blog.
The Cowboys could be fined for violating NFL rules for reporting injury updates, which states, in part: "All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game. This is especially true of key players and those players whose injuries have been covered extensively by the media.
"This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the NFL."
Romo lost the past two winner-take-all finales - to the New York Giants 2 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."
The Cowboys (8-7) want to end a 3-year playoff drought and avoid a third 8-8 finish in Garrett's three full seasons as coach, but will have to do it without both Romo and its defensive leader. 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.
In other injury news, defensive end DeMarcus Ware missed practice because of an elbow injury but told reporters he is playing. He's listed as questionable. Wide receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris and cornerback Morris Claiborne are probable as they return from hamstring injuries. Linebacker Ernie Sims is doubtful with a groin injury.