- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo just completed the most efficient season of his NFL career, passing for 3,705 yards with 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He completed a league-leading 69.9 percent of his passes and led the NFL with a passer rating of 113.2.
Obviously, Romo has had plenty of outstanding seasons but this was the year Romo’s mental acumen and his physical skills morphed together perfectly.
But he didn’t do it by himself. No quarterback does.
Here are 10 reasons Romo had the best season of his career.
1. It took two games, but Romo, coach Jason Garrett and the training staff finally figured out that it was better for Romo to use Wednesdays working on his back-strengthening exercises instead of practicing.
2. The Cowboys ran the ball 49.9 percent of the time this season, which meant Romo shared the offensive burden for the first time in his career. In the previous three seasons, the Cowboys ran the ball 35.1 percent (29th in the league), 33.8 percent (31st) and 40.1 percent (23rd).
3. Romo and first-year playcaller Scott Linehan quickly established a good relationship that allowed them to build the rapport every quarterback needs with the playcaller.
4. Rookie right guard Zack Martin gave Garrett and Linehan the confidence they needed to lean on the running game.
5. The primary offensive starters missed 10 games to injury. Right tackle Doug Free missed seven games.
6. DeMarco Murray carried a league-leading 392 times and recorded 12 100-yard games, which is why Romo threw a career-low 29 passes per game.
7. Romo made protecting the ball his top priority. He threw three interceptions in his first 14 passes, and six in his last 421 attempts.
8. The performance of the Cowboys’ role players played an integral part in several victories, whether we’re talking about tight end Gavin Escobar’s two touchdowns in a home win over the New York Giants or Cole Beasley’s two-touchdown performance in a road win over the Chicago Bears. Running backs Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar combined for 26 plays of 10 yards or more in just 102 touches, while Terrance Williams, Beasley, Dunbar and Escobar combined for 1,363 yards and 16 touchdowns.
9. Dez Bryant is a touchdown machine, setting a franchise record with 16 touchdowns, including eight of 20 yards or more.
10. Jermey Parnell started seven games this season, while Free worked through two different foot injuries. Parnell played well enough that he was never a topic of discussion after a game.