Cowboys: Romo knew it was fourth down

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

It may have taken more than 24 hours, but the Cowboys' public relations office offered an explanation late Tuesday afternoon for why quarterback Tony Romo appeared to think he had an extra play after firing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal from the Broncos' 2-yard line Sunday. Video footage taken by Fox 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth showed Romo attempting to rush his teammates to the line of scrimmage and then he held up three fingers to the officials as if to suggest the previous play had actually been third down.

Here's the explanation that Cowboys public relations chief Rich Dalrymple released to local beat reporters Tuesday:

"As Tony was walking off the field after the fourth down play, he saw that the down marker on the Dallas sideline read '3'" Dalrymple said after speaking to Romo on Tuesday. "As it turned out, the marker was in the process of being changed, sequentially, from the number "4" to the number "1" for the Broncos ensuing possession. The marker on the Cowboys side read "3" temporarily. When he saw the "3," he thought there might have been the possibility of an error on the down count. After asking the officials (holding up three fingers), he then saw the down marker move through the progression from 3 to 2 to 1. He told the offense it was fourth down in the huddle prior to the last play."

OK, let's get this straight. So Romo looked over to the sideline, sees a "3" on the down marker and thought he could sneak in an extra play. Obviously everyone in the stadium knew that Romo had clocked the ball on second-and-2 and that he was going to get two more shots at the end zone. I'm assuming the officials had that knowledge -- even if the sideline crew was slow to change the markers.

Of course, most of us remember the famous Fifth Down Game in which Colorado used an extra down to defeat Missouri. But something tells me that's not going to happen in an NFL game. Now if Romo really was trying to pull one over on the officials, it's certainly not as embarrassing a situation for him as it appeared to be. Romo is saying that he reminded his teammates in the huddle that it was fourth down.

So are you guys taking Romo and the Cowboys at their word or does this sound like a story that's been concocted to avoid further embarrassment?