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Thursday, April 8, 2010
Stadium flashback: Romo era begins

By Calvin Watkins

My biggest memory of Texas Stadium is the changing of the guard at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

It was Oct. 23, 2006 and Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe was having a terrible day. The Cowboys trailed 12-7 toward the end of the first half against the New York Giants. But Bledsoe had driven the team to the Giants 4-yard line. During a timeout, wide receiver Terrell Owens told Bledsoe he had one-on-one coverage against a cornerback and that he was open.

Bledsoe, according to Owens, said, "I'm throwing to Terry."

Terry meaning Terry Glenn, the other wide receiver and a trusted offensive weapon for Bledsoe. On the play, Bledsoe directed a pass to Glenn that was intercepted by Sam Madison.

The half ended with Bledsoe going 7-for-12 for 111 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Bill Parcells benched Bledsoe for Tony Romo to start the second half.

We knew Bledsoe was struggling, but there was such an unknown about Romo. Michael Strahan tipped his first pass, which Antonio Pierce picked off. The Giants scored as a result of the turnover to take a 19-7 lead.

When the night was over, the Cowboys were beaten, 36-22, and Romo had thrown three interceptions. There was plenty of turmoil around the Cowboys then. Parcells said he didn't know what he was going to do at quarterback. Owens didn't care which quarterback was back there.

Then there was Bledsoe. I remember walking with him out of the locker room with another reporter. There's this tunnel outside of the Cowboys locker room that leads players to their cars. Bledsoe was looking sick. I'm sure he was thinking he was going to get benched. I'm sure his memories of how Tom Brady took over for him in New England were seeping into his brain.

We had gotten to the tunnel when Bledsoe said, "Just a bad decision."

When asked who made a bad a decision?

"Bill," he said as he walked to his car.

It was the end of the Bledsoe era in Dallas and the start of Romo's career as a starter.

That night, I left the tunnel and headed to the press box, walking across the Texas Stadium turf wondering if Romo could handle being the starter of the Dallas Cowboys.