- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo had quite an interesting night the last time the Cowboys played the Bills.
Romo threw a career-high five interceptions in that game … and somehow managed to regain his composure to lead the Cowboys to an improbable comeback win.
“I look back now, it seems a little silly some of the stuff I did,” Romo said Thursday. “It is what it is.”
It is a key moment in Romo’s career, as far as his coach is concerned.
Romo, who was in his first full season as a starter, played about as poorly as possible for the first three and a half quarters that Monday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He had two picks returned for touchdowns in the first half. His club-record-tying fifth interception came in the fourth quarter, when he also lost a fumble.
But Romo came through when the Cowboys needed him most. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 99 yards on two drives in the final 3:45. Those possessions ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton and a game-winning 53-yard field goal by Nick Folk, who had to make the kick twice because the Bills called timeout just before the first attempt.
“I learned a lot about him that night,” Garrett said. “When it came down to the critical time in the ballgame late when you’ve [thrown five interceptions], it takes a special mentality, a special competitor to come back and keep banging away and give your team a chance to win that game. Tony did that. He didn’t blink. …
“I thought it was a really important night for him. Often times as a quarterback, when it’s easy, it’s easy. Things are rolling, everything’s clicking. But I think you really get measured at that position – and, really, as a football team, as individual players and coaches – when things are hard. How do you respond?”
Romo’s response for the then-undefeated Cowboys gave Jerry Jones more reason to believe he found a franchise quarterback. The Cowboys signed Romo to a six-year, $67 million extension weeks later.
It was also a valuable learning experience for a quarterback early in his tenure as a starter.
“I think you need to understand that, no matter what is going on around you, it’s the next play,” Romo said. “Like we’ve said before, if you’ve thrown an interception or a touchdown you need to come back and be your best on the very next play. That was an example of you can be down, you know you put your team and yourself in a hole, but we had a chance to win late in the game.
“At that time, you need to think you’ve thrown four touchdowns and everything is going your way so that you’re emotionally and mentally renewed to go win a game. That was an important lesson there.”
The other lesson learned by Romo that night: “Don’t throw five interceptions. It makes it harder to win.”