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Tony Romo breaks jinx on way to win

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony Romo didn't just beat the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving Day.

He took down the Cowboys' dreaded blue-jersey jinx. He defeated Sports Illustrated's notorious cover jinx, too.

And just so you know, Romo did while battling a nasty virus that had his stomach churning Wednesday night and much of Thursday.

None of it affected him on the field. Romo turned in yet another mistake-free performance, his norm the past few weeks, as the Cowboys moved two games over .500 for the first time this season. They did it wearing blue jerseys at a home game for the first time since 1963. No worries. Dallas 31, Oakland 24.

Romo, who was 12-for-12 in the second half, passed for 225 yards and a touchdown while increasing his career record in November to 26-6 with 64 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Cowboys fans have had disdain for the blue jerseys since the Cleveland Browns upset them in a 1968 playoff game. The jinx talk heightened when the Cowboys lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts after the NFL forced the Cowboys to wear blue jerseys even though they were the home team.

SI's well-known jinx has been debated since the 1950s, with numerous examples ranging from the undefeated 1977 Texas Longhorns losing to Notre Dame after running back Earl Campbell appeared on the cover to Brenham (Texas) High School pitcher Jon Peters, who was 51-0, losing the first and only game of his career after being featured on the cover in 1989. Hey, if Romo can snuff out the blue jersey and SI jinx on the same day, making the playoffs for the first time since 2009 shouldn't be that hard, right?

Once again, Romo has positioned the Cowboys to make yet another December playoff run. The past two seasons ended with disappointing road losses; perhaps, this season will be different.

After all, we're watching a different quarterback. We haven't seen the "Wisconsin Gunslinger" since he passed for 506 yards with five touchdowns and an interception in a 51-48 loss on Oct. 6 to the Denver Broncos.

In his first five games, Romo averaged 304.2 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and two interceptions. In the past seven games, he's averaged 230.5 yards passing with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Struggling through the virus' effects and Oakland's pressure defense in the first half, an ineffective Romo watched as the Raiders took a 21-7 lead. The Cowboys' only touchdown had been set up by linebacker Kyle Wilber's recovery of a botched snap at the Oakland 3. With 1:56 left in the first half, Romo had completed just 6 of 13 for 55 yards.

Then, just like that, he found a rhythm.

Romo completed 5 of 7 passes, moving the Cowboys from their 27 to the Oakland 4-yard line with 14 seconds left in the first half. On second-and-goal from the four, DeMarco Murray barreled over right guard for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half.

A 4-yard pass to Dez Bryant with 5:26 left in the third quarter tied the score, and the Cowboys took their first lead, 28-21, on Murray's third touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter.

"Last night [the virus] started," said Romo, looking pale and fatigued in a charcoal gray suit an hour after the game.

"You just do whatever the doc says. A bunch of stuff. I don't even know. I took a couple of things, but you know it's a virus, so you just hold on and try to get better. No big deal."

Owner Jerry Jones certainly didn't feel that way.

"He's such a gamer, and he's showed us time and time again," Jones said. "He protected the ball out there and played within himself. I was proud to see him take over in the second quarter, which is what he does when you see us in [five-receiver formations]."

No use wasting type trying to attach style points to this win. All that matters is the Cowboys found a way to win.

You can thank Romo, helped by a running game and a defense that allowed only a field goal in the second half. "He didn't have a great look on his face from a physical standpoint. Looked a little drawn to me. We talked about the great Joe Montana story in the Cotton Bowl," said coach Jason Garrett, referencing Notre Dame's famous 1978 Cotton Bowl win.

"We didn't actually get him the chicken soup, but we tried to get a little drama going so maybe he'd respond to it. When he got going, he started to feel good, particularly on that drive before the half, and it carried into the second half."

Now the Cowboys have 11 days off before playing Chicago. As the Cowboys enter December, Jones and Garrett have many reasons to give thanks.

They can start with their quarterback.