Thursday, November 24, 2011
Tony Romo delivers again for Cowboys
By Todd Archer ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As he surveyed the Miami Dolphins' defense with 2:54 to play in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by two points, Tony Romo knew before he received the shotgun snap that he would be in trouble.
The Dolphins had too many rushers for the Dallas Cowboys to block. Romo had already made up his mind that he would go to Kevin Ogletree with the pass on second-and-10, but Ogeltree was covered and cornerback Will Allen was sprinting off the edge untouched.
"I did some sort of shimmy or something," Romo said, "and I was able to buy an extra second."
Tony Romo had his highs and lows against Miami, but he delivered again when it mattered most.
That extra second allowed Romo to wobble a pass to Jason Witten for a 23-yard gain to the Miami 41, setting in motion a series of events that would allow Dan Bailey to bang home the game-winning field goal from 28 yards out against Miami on the final play of the game.
For the second time in four days, Romo had delivered. On Sunday, it was Cowboys 27, Washington 24. On Thursday, it was Cowboys 20, Miami 19.
But Thursday was not vintage Romo. It was Romo overcoming adversity.
He entered the game without an interception in his previous 126 throws, and even that pick came off a tipped pass. That streak ended three throws into the contest when Vontae Davis pulled down an underthrown ball to Martellus Bennett along the sideline.
His next streak lasted just one throw before Sean Smith undercut Laurent Robinson on Romo's sixth pass of the game.
It had the feel of Detroit all over again, when three second-half interceptions led to the Cowboys blowing a 24-point lead.
"As a quarterback you have to be able to keep playing the next play like you've had three touchdowns or three interceptions," Romo said. "It doesn't matter. This play needs to be executed at the best level after that. That's a hard thing to do. Emotionally, it's tough when you throw a pick, much less two early in a game. You put your team in a hole and you have to come out of that."
Romo's next 28 passes were not picked off. He threw two touchdown passes to Robinson, from five yards out in the second quarter and from 18 yards away in the fourth.
It was the first time the Cowboys have won a game in which Romo has been intercepted at least twice since Nov. 16, 2008, when they beat the Washington Redskins 14-10, a span of six games.
"You have to play through success," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "You have to play through adversity. You have to pick up that bat and swing it the next time."
It was the second touchdown that capped a drive that was classic Romo, where instincts and luck perhaps helped more than the actual decision-making.
With defensive end Randy Starks pulling on his jersey, Romo floated a pass to Witten for a 9-yard gain between two defenders. On the next play, outside linebacker Cameron Wake had his arms around Romo's waist as the quarterback flipped a pass to DeMarco Murray for 17 yards to the Miami 48.
On the first play of the fourth quarter -- a third-and-3 from the Miami 23 -- Romo took a big hit from linebacker Karlos Dansby as he flicked a pass to Witten for 5 yards and a first down.
"I mean, that's what he does," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "It's not the first time. I've seen Tony do that, and I've been a part of him doing that."
As a Cowboys assistant coach from 2003 to 2007, Sparano had witnessed those plays in many games, but also in practice.
"I think the reality of this game is the old [NFL] combine; this guy looks great, he's a top-10 pick because he can drop back seven steps and throw it to the sideline," Romo said. "You're only going to make eight throws like that in a game. You've got 20 other ones with people [around you], your body is in different positions. You're going to go off your back foot, your front foot. You're going to be sliding to your left. You're going to have a guy about to hit you. You're going to have to throw around an arm. It's just the reality of the world we live in."
Early in his career, and even now, Romo would go through those scenarios in his mind at practice, even when there would be no defender on the field.
"It's like shooting baskets," Romo said. "Do you stand and shoot or do you make it like a game and make a move and do it like the defender is there? That's allowed me to know what the ball is going to do most of the time when I'm in a bad or different type of position because I've done it before. You try to make stuff not brand new when you're in that position."
It is Romo being Romo. And the Cowboys were thankful for him Thursday.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.