Romo a Go-Go
There's a lot to
like about the Cowboys' new starting quarterback—most notably the way he can
pick apart a defense
THE COWBOYS love
many things about Tony Romo, their ascendant fourth-year quarterback, who threw
for 226 yards on Sunday in his fourth career start to help beat the previously
undefeated Colts 21--14. They love his mobility on the field and his work ethic
off it. They also love that Romo, 26, was a solid teammate long before he
replaced Drew Bledsoe at halftime of an Oct. 23 loss to the Giants. "Tony
was a guy people in the locker room gravitated to," says veteran tight end
Jason Witten. "He's got a spark to him. And we knew the team would feel the
spark if he played."
more. Here is a snapshot from Sunday's win that shows why the Cowboys and coach
Bill Parcells—"My expectations of him are probably higher than yours,"
he said to the media after the Indy win—are so infatuated with Romo, an
undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois. With the game tied at 14 midway
through the fourth quarter, Dallas had a first-and-10 on its own 39. The play
call was for wideout Terry Glenn to come off the line from the right as if to
run a hard slant to the middle ( Romo had hit him three times on this move in
the third quarter alone), then break the route straight up the hash mark.
"A seam move," said Romo. But as Glenn started his slant, Romo saw
cornerback Jason David angling inside to jump the route—a typical tactic in the
Colts' speed-over-power defense. With David in the alley, Glenn would have been
unable to run up the seam.
"I watched so
much film this week, and I kept noticing, Hey, these DBs really react
fast," said Romo after that game. "They watch the quarterback's eyes
and the ball, and they move."
With that in
mind, Romo pump faked, drawing David far inside. Glenn, seeing David's
reaction, angled the pattern to the deep sideline—"Now it was a
slant-and-go, which was totally different from what we called," said
Romo—and Romo hit him over his outside shoulder for a 33 yard gain. Five plays
later the Cowboys scored the winning TD.
Romo's rise has
been partly obscured by other matters: the benching of veteran Bledsoe, the
Terrell Owens sideshow and even Romo's appearance in the celebrity blogosphere,
where he's been linked with Jessica Simpson. The completion to Glenn was the
product of diligent tape study and superb athletic execution. Substance over
Romo completed 19
of 23 passes in Sunday's win. Since taking over for Bledsoe, he has connected
on 70% of his attempts and thrown five touchdowns, with just two interceptions.
"He's getting better every week," Owens said after Sunday's game.
"We're getting really comfortable with him." Most important, the
Cowboys are 3--1 under Romo, the only loss being that fluky 22--19 defeat at
Washington. Dallas plays four of its last six games at home.
At 6:17 on Sunday
evening Romo sprinted from the floor of Texas Stadium toward the runway to the
Cowboys' locker room. The game ball from his first home victory was clutched in
his left arm, but Romo didn't keep it. Instead he gave it to defensive back
Aaron Glenn, whose third-quarter deflection of a Peyton Manning pass led to
linebacker Kevin Burnett's 39 yard interception return, which tied the game at
7 and awakened the Cowboys and their fans.
was the difference," said Romo. "We're down seven; they're driving. We
needed something. That's why I gave Aaron the ball." And that, too, is why
the Cowboys love Romo.