And now that Romo
is the starter, the highest-rated quarterback in the league ... Parcells has
ratcheted up the abuse.
Johnny Unitas yet, Romo!"
"Oh, I get
it, you're a celebrity quarterback now."
"Ninety-five percent of it is just needling, and it's hilarious. I get
along with Bill because we're both competitive. We both want the same
ACT V: The
start came on a Sunday night, Oct. 29, against the Panthers, six days after his
relief appearance against the Giants. For five days he'd prepared for Carolina
while stewing about his three-pick effort against New York. "He was totally
distraught for two or three days," says Brewer. "He'd been thinking, If
I just get a chance, I'll totally kill it, and now he's embarrassed. He was
saying, Man, I cannot fail, because I can't handle it. I'm embarrassed to show
my face outside, because I let everybody down."
Carolina went up
14--0 late in the first quarter. Witten approached Romo on the sideline, where
the rising panic was palpable. The season was on the line. "Listen, man,
we've got to have this game," Witten told his quarterback. "You need to
relax, be the leader, play within the system, because we're 3--3 and we cannot
Romo cut him off.
"Jason, I've got everything under control," he said, seething.
"We'll be fine." The Cowboys went on to win 35--14, Romo finishing 24
of 36 for 270 yards. After throwing an interception in the first quarter
against the Panthers, he tossed only one in the ensuing 19 quarters.
Romo also moves,
something Bledsoe didn't do. "He has the ability to buy time and let his
receivers get open," says Cardinals cornerback Eric Green. And Romo spreads
the ball more generously than Bledsoe among those receivers: 60% of Bledsoe's
completions were to Terry Glenn and Owens, but they've gotten fewer than half
of Romo's. Despite numerous drops (including two against the Giants), Owens has
caught nearly twice as many balls from Romo as he had from Bledsoe, and he's
predictably pleased. "What can you not like about Tony?" Owens says.
"Student of the game, great athlete, and every receiver out there knows he
might get the ball on every play."