IRVING, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo limped so badly on one play against Washington, he barely made it to the spot where he had to hand off.
The obvious limp was gone by the time the Dallas quarterback moved forward in the pocket and threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray that gave Dallas a season-saving 24-23 win over the Redskins.
The severity of his back injury is likely to remain a question all week as the Cowboys prepare for their third straight season finale for the NFC East title and a playoff berth, this time against Philadelphia on Sunday night.
Responding to reports that Romo wouldn’t play against the Eagles, coach Jason Garrett said Monday the team had “not made that determination at all at this point.”
Garrett wouldn’t reveal the results of an MRI for the 33-year-old Romo, who had back surgery to remove a cyst in April and missed offseason workouts.
“Obviously he was able to play through it and played very well at the end of that ballgame,” Garrett said. “He’s getting treatment. The MRI was part of the evaluation and there’s going to be a series of different things that we do for his treatment over the next few days and see how he responds to it.”
Romo came up limping after tripping over his foot while escaping pressure during the possession before the winning drive. He doubled over in apparent pain but didn’t leave the game, eventually throwing for 140 of his 226 yards passing in the fourth quarter.
“I saw him limping around after that first couple of plays after, but I didn’t realize he was that injured,” said tight end Jason Witten, who played in the 2012 season opener 23 days after rupturing his spleen in a preseason game. “Obviously it’s a testament to how he plays and what kind of competitor he is.”
Garrett said the Cowboys were working to add a third quarterback behind backup Kyle Orton, who hasn’t started a game since 2011, the year he was replaced by Tim Tebow in Denver.
Orton, who wasn’t in the Cowboys’ locker room when it was open to reporters Monday, started the last three games for Kansas City that season after the Chiefs picked him up on waivers. He’s been with Dallas the past two years.
“We have Kyle Orton here for a reason,” Garrett said. “Kyle knows what he has to do to be ready. Kyle prepares like he’s the starting quarterback each and every week.”
Romo figures to do everything he can to take the first snap against the Eagles, because he’d like to change the ending after losing the past two winner-take-all finales, against the New York Giants two years ago and the Redskins in 2012.
He lost to Philadelphia in the same scenario five years ago.
Beyond the incentive to end Dallas’ three-year playoff drought, Romo has a history of playing through injuries. He didn’t miss a game in 2011 after breaking his ribs early in the season against San Francisco.
“Obviously Tony is a big part of everything we try to do as a football team and obviously as an offense,” Witten said. “He’s been pretty resilient and I know he’ll do everything he can to get back, but just like any position, that one is probably a little bit tougher.”
If Romo can’t play, the Cowboys might be without their offensive and defensive leaders. Sean Lee was hopeful last week he would return against the Eagles after missing two games with a sprained neck, but Garrett said Monday the linebacker’s outlook hadn’t changed.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne might be available. The top 10 pick from 2012 has missed six of the past seven games with hamstring issues, and his recovery was set back when he had to leave the team after the death of his father and the birth of his child.
“We just had a sense of urgency about ourselves,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said of beating Washington. “We just played with a lot of new guys back there and we knew what was at stake. We had to win this one, and we scratched and clawed.”
Now the Cowboys might have to win without the biggest name of all.