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Sunday, December 03, 2006

That's Mr. Romo to You

Forget the less than perfect first half. Forget the two interceptions, only one of which was Romo's doing, and no touchdowns, knowing that Anthony Fasano catches a TD pass if not interfered with in the end zone.

And know this: Tony Romo, the leader of America's team brought less than his "A" game in a big game on the road but made the plays in the fourth quarter to win the game.

We all saw the nerves early. Romo was clearly pressing for the big play. Throwing into coverage. Holding the ball too long. Not nearly as accurate as usual. But this quickly-becoming-legend first-year starter pulled it together and, with an assist from Marion Barber, had his team leading after the first half. You had to feel good about the game seeing Romo's lackluster play and the Cowboy's lack of pass rush and knowing they had the lead.

In fact, the defensive game plan was ridiculous. The Cowboys are without Greg Ellis. Eli Manning is prone to big mistakes when pressured. Yet, Dallas only brought four rushers for most the game. This allowed the Giants to move up and the down the field most the game. The only saving grace was the players overcoming the game plan with key stops in the red zone.

The defensive performance then allowed Romo to work his magic. First the 12-play, 66-yard drive to put his team up six with 3:33 remaining to play. Romo, then, answered the defense finally cracking in the red zone with a beauty of a 42-yard strike to Jason Witten to set up the game-winning field goal by none other than Martin "Not Quite Automatica" Gramatica. And the funny thing? Vanderjagt goes 3 for 4 in this game and we'd be talking about how he almost lost the game. Gramtica does it and he's a hero.

So you can talk about Marion Barber's clutch plays. You can mention the defense making big stops in the red zone. You can even point out that the Giants gave up big plays at the end of both halves setting up field goals you can say ultimately won the game. But, the bottom line is Romo makes plays. His team is 5-1 with him starting. In my book, Romo the individual is 6-0.

So Jeremy Shockey is welcome to say what he will. Truth is, the Giants played their game. But, with Drew Bledsoe on the bench, New York no longer has the better quarterback. And that put Dallas in the NFC East driver's seat. And with 3 of 4 games at home, Detroit and Philly combining for a 2-9 road record, and Atlanta playing .500 football at home, don't expect Romo and his mates to choke this on this opportunity.

That means next Sunday night's game against New Orleans in Texas Stadium is huge for playoff positioning. Win, and the Cowboys could make the contest for the NFC's number two playoff seeding a two-horse race with the Seahawks. And forget Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and Deuce McAllister. Forget Sean Payton looking to beat his old mentor. With Romo at the controls, we have been given no reason to doubt Romo wins the big game.

Thank you, Mr. Romo. May I have another.

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