Cowboys Romo works best late in the game

December 7th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Cowboys Romo works best late in the game


Associated Press

IRVING, Texas - Tony Romo has obviously played well lately for the Dallas Cowboys. What Bill Parcells notices is that the quarterback is doing some of his best work late in games when it matters most.
"I've kind of been impressed with that aspect of it," Parcells said Wednesday. "I have to tell you that."
Romo is the NFL's top-rated quarterback with four straight victories that have given the Cowboys a two-game lead in the NFC East. His strong play late finally earned a compliment from the coach.
"I'll take it," Romo said.
After the New York Giants scored a tying touchdown with 1:06 left Sunday, Romo started the ensuing drive with a 42-yard strike to Jason Witten down the middle of the field to the Giants 26. That set up a game-winning field goal with 1 second left.
Forget the two interceptions and fumble Romo had before halftime. When the game was on the line, he pushed the Cowboys (8-4) a step closer to their first division title since 1998.
"That just goes to show that he doesn't get discouraged and doesn't let past plays affect him," center Al Johnson said. "He comes out and he's still doing his normal thing just as if everything was great earlier."
The New York game provided Romo's first game-winning drive, but it came after an impressive three-game stretch. Romo was a combined 29-of-31 passing for 409 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the second halves of those victories, one of those 21-14 over Peyton Manning and then-undefeated Indianapolis.
"Obviously, he's making his presence felt," Terrell Owens said. "Definitely, when you go into the fourth quarter with a guy like that, with the enthusiasm and confidence to make plays, and being productive as we have, that's definitely a positive."
The fortunes of the Cowboys have certainly changed since Romo, a fourth-year player, replaced Drew Bledsoe as the starter Oct. 29 at Carolina. Dallas is 5-1 since, and plays three of its remaining four games at home.
Next up are the New Orleans Saints (8-4) and coach Sean Payton, the former Parcells assistant who helped develop Romo the last three years.
The winner Sunday night could have the inside track for the NFC's No. 2 playoff seed, which means a first-round bye and a second-round home game.
When asked why he excels late in games, Romo said the best explanation is his competitive nature and an understanding of the situations.
"At certain times in the game, you might have to put the ball in a little smaller hole than you normally would, or in certain times of the game, you know it's more important not to have a turnover here," he said. "In those situations, I just really rely on my instincts and just let them roll."
Witten, the Pro Bowl tight end, was a third-round draft pick in 2003, the same year Romo came to Dallas as a rookie free agent.
When Romo threw an interception in the first quarter of his first start and the Panthers went ahead 14-0, Witten went to offer some encouraging words to his friend.
"He kind of looked at me like 'I've got everything under control.' Not in an arrogant way," Witten said. "But when he did that, I just kind of knew, OK, he understands. And he did."
Romo went on to complete 24 of 36 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns, with no more interceptions, and the Cowboys won 35-14.
Payton's quarterback in New Orleans is Drew Brees, the second-rated in the NFC behind Romo. So, Sunday is a meeting of the conference's "best" two quarterbacks, right?
"I think there's probably a pretty good chance that I wouldn't agree totally with that," said Parcells, speaking only of Romo. "Now, I've been happy with the way he's played so don't say I've said anything negative. You asked me to compare him to the best. I can't do that right this minute."
Still, all Romo's done for Big Bill and the Boys lately is win.

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