Dallas Cowboys: Randall Cunningham

Tony Romo took a beating, wins in fourth

December, 10, 2012

CINCINNATI -- By the end of Sunday’s 20-19 win at Cincinnati, Tony Romo’s No. 9 was torn and the Pro Football Hall of Fame patch was missing.

His back, however, was feeling OK.

Quarterback Tony Romo remembers Jerry Brown after the Cowboys' emotional win over the Bengals.

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Romo was sent to the ground on a 14-yard sack by Michael Johnson as Carlos Dunlap ripped at the quarterback’s face mask.

“I’ll be all right,” said Romo, who was sacked three times. “I just twisted it up a little bit. Normal stuff in football.”

Romo completed 25 of 43 passes for 268 yards. He opened the game with five straight completions to give him 17 over two games to establish a team record. Steve Pelluer and Randall Cunningham shared the team mark with 14.

With his touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, Romo has had at least 20 touchdown in a season five times, most in team history. His 349 completions are also a season team mark, and he needs 25 more attempts to set a team mark in a year.

Of the Cowboys’ seven wins, four have been fourth-quarter comebacks. Romo now has 17 in his career.

“We needed to win,” Romo said. “We needed to win last week. We needed to win five weeks in a row. We’re 4-1, I think, in our last five. We’re not a perfect football team. I think we know that we’re going to be in a battle every week we play. We have to play a really, good, sound football game to have a chance. Our team continues to be mentally tough and keep staying in this thing.

“I’m proud of our guys, the mental toughness it took and what it takes to win these games. It’s not easy. We’ve just got to keep going forward and keep getting better.”

Final Word: NFC East

December, 8, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

Rookies making history. The Washington Redskins are the first team in NFL history to feature both a 2,000-yard rookie passer (Robert Griffin III) and a 1,000-yard rookie rusher (Alfred Morris). Griffin is poised to join Morris as a 1,000-yard rusher if he can average 71.5 rushing yards per game the rest of the way. Griffin already is just the fourth player in league history to pass for at least 2,500 yards and rush for at least 700 yards in a single season, joining Cam Newton (2011), Michael Vick (2002) and Randall Cunningham (1990). The Redskins are 6-6 and pushing for a playoff spot, and the success or failure of the rookie engines of their offense over the final four games could determine whether they can get in.

[+] EnlargeAlfred Morris
Kim Klement/US PresswireRookie running back Alfred Morris has rushed for 1,106 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Outside the numbers. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the top two wide receivers in the NFL this season on passes thrown outside the painted numbers are the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant and the Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green, who will be on the same field Sunday in Cincinnati. Green leads the NFL with 49 receptions and eight touchdowns on such throws, and is averaging 13.8 yards per reception outside the numbers. Bryant has 42 catches and six touchdowns, and is averaging 14 yards per reception on throws outside the numbers. These two are going to be a nightmare for the opposing cornerbacks in this game if they're trying to cover them man-to-man.

Flipping the rookie script? Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Bryce Brown has been more impressive since taking over for concussed starter LeSean McCoy than rookie quarterback Nick Foles has been filling in for concussed starter Vick. But that could change this week in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are allowing just 82.3 yards per game on the ground this season, the lowest figure in the NFL. They are allowing an NFL-high 309.4 yards per game through the air, which could turn out to be historically bad. No team in NFL history has allowed an average of 300 or more passing yards per game over a full season. So Foles has a chance for his best game yet, while Brown is likely to find the going tougher this week.

Not going to be a Brees. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is 4-0 with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his four career games against the New York Giants, who host the Saints on Sunday in New Jersey. ESPN Stats & Info tells me the 11 touchdowns are tied for the most any player has had against a team that has not intercepted him. Drew Bledsoe had 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his career against the Cardinals. Of course, the Giants could be catching Brees at the right time. He threw five interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 13 against the Falcons in Atlanta. It broke a league-record streak of 54 consecutive games in which Brees had thrown at least one touchdown pass.

On the ground. Neither the Saints nor the Giants have been very good at stopping opposing runners in the backfield. New Orleans is allowing an average of 3.4 yards per rush before initial contact, which is the second-highest figure in the league, while New York's 3.2 yards allowed per rush before initial contact is third worst in the league. So Ahmad Bradshaw and whichever Saints running backs are active this week could have an easier time than usual making it to at least the line of scrimmage.

Final Word: NFC East

November, 11, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 10:

Tough times. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles will meet for the 103rd time on Sunday but it'll be just the first meeting since Oct. 28, 1990, in which both teams have sub-.500 records. The 2-4 Eagles beat the 3-4 Cowboys 21-20 that day. Randall Cunningham threw touchdown passes to Anthony Toney and Calvin Williams in that game, and the Eagles held Emmitt Smith to 52 yards on 14 carries. It's the first Cowboys-Eagles game since Dec. 5, 1965, that finds each team at least two games under .500. That day, the 4-7 Cowboys beat the 4-7 Eagles 21-19 as Don Meredith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Bob Hayes caught five passes for 106 yards.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Jeremy Brevard/US PresswireCowboys QB Tony Romo could feast against a struggling Philadelphia defense Sunday.
Could Romo get well? Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a league-leading 758 passing yards over the past two weeks. The Eagles have allowed opponents to complete 6 of 8 passes thrown at least 15 yards down the field in the two weeks since the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, according to ESPN Stats & Info's next-level numbers. On the road this year, Romo has a 57.6 completion percentage, 14.7 yards per attempt, five touchdowns and no interceptions on throws of 15 or more yards downfield. What we're trying to get at here is that, if this is the week you see the Cowboys' deep passing game come back, don't be too surprised.

Kinda tired of packing and unpacking. The New York Giants are 0-5 all time in Cincinnati, where they'll face the Bengals on Sunday. Overall, they are 3-5 in eight meetings against the Bengals. If it's a close game, don't be surprised. The past three meetings between these teams have been decided by three or fewer points, and seven of the eight all-time matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less. Worth noting, however, is that they haven't played each other since Sept. 21, 2008, when the Giants won 26-23 at Giants Stadium.

ESPN NFL insider Darren Woodson says Jerry Jones is still the best owner in sports and it isn't even close.

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You look familiar. The Bengals lost last week to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. On Sunday, they'll become the third team in history to play against Peyton and Eli Manning in consecutive games. The Baltimore Ravens beat Eli and the Giants in Week 14 of 2004, then lost to Peyton and the Colts the next week. The 2006 Titans beat the Giants in Week 12 and the Colts in Week 13.

Playing into their hands. The Giants are tied with the Chicago Bears for the league lead with 17 interceptions. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown at least one interception in each of the Bengals' eight games this season and has a total of 11 for the year. Only the Cowboys' Romo and Cleveland rookie Brandon Weeden have thrown more. The last quarterback to throw an interception in each of his team's first nine games was the Cowboys' Troy Aikman in 1990. This is Dalton's second season in the league, and 1990 was Aikman's second, as well.