Romo, Witten enjoy happy ending, but will Cowboys have more?
IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo and Jason Witten have seen plenty of bad endings in Dallas.
So it was quite a change when they combined for a critical fourth-down conversion after a surprising reversal from officials set up the decisive drive in a 24-20 wild-card win over Detroit.
The two-touchdown rally Sunday wasn’t new to this year’s Cowboys (13-4), but it was by far the most significant.
And it begs the question of whether that means something more for Romo considering his history of gut-wrenching postseason failures.
”Let’s not take a global view of this,” coach Jason Garrett said Monday, clearly suggesting otherwise. ”It was a good day for our organization. It was a good day for Tony Romo. To play as well as he did down the stretch and make the plays, I thought that was huge. Having said that, we’re going to watch the tape tomorrow.”
That’s another way of saying it’s on to Sunday’s game against Green Bay (12-4) in the division round, where Romo is 0-2.
But it’s hard to dismiss the significance of the 21-yard toss to Witten on fourth-and-6 from near midfield with 6 minutes to go and the Cowboys down 20-17.
Outside their locker room, that play was lost in the hubbub over a pass interference penalty against Dallas that was reversed, forcing Detroit to punt and giving Romo the opportunity he seized.
”Our careers, I mean, the last seven or eight years together, we’ve been through everything together,” Witten said. ”To be able to complete that pass, convert there, that was big for our team.”
Dallas came from 21-0 down to win at St. Louis 34-31 early in the season, the first of a career-high five comebacks in fourth quarter or overtime for Romo this season.
One of them was at Super Bowl champion Seattle, and Romo had a winning play similar to the one against the Lions in a regular-season win at the New York Giants.
He stayed in the pocket for several seconds before finding Dez Bryant in the end zone to beat the Giants. Terrance Williams was the one who found open space against the Lions as the Cowboys won their first playoff game in five years.
”If you are mentally tough enough, and you’ve been through it, and I think experience helps you, you just get rid of those thoughts and understand that this game is going to go all the way to the end,” Romo said. ”Just don’t give them anything to let this game get out of reach and it will find a way to get back at the end.”
Romo said this playoff game was ”eerily similar” to a 34-3 playoff loss at Minnesota during the 2009 season, when Romo’s only interception triggered a 17-point fourth quarter for the Vikings. Romo said he had several throwaways against the Lions because he didn’t want them to have any easy chances to build on leads of 14-0 in the first half and 20-7 in the third quarter.
While leading the Cowboys to an 8-0 record on the road, Romo threw just two interceptions with 20 touchdowns. He will probably have to maintain the approach to keep Dallas close because Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception at home since December 2012. The Packers are 8-0 at home, too.
”I threw a lot of balls away at guys’ feet (against Detroit) because I wasn’t sure and weren’t going to make the play, or I was under duress,” said Romo, who was sacked a season-high six times. ”I did that more than anything because I felt like if we didn’t give them the ball, they wouldn’t run away.”
As a result, Romo put a little more distance between himself and those old playoff failures.
NOTES: LB Rolando McClain will being evaluated this week for a concussion and also has neck soreness that Garrett doesn’t think will be a big issue. … DT Terrell McClain sprained an ankle against the Lions and his status is unknown. … Garrett didn’t sound optimistic about RT Doug Free returning from a three-game absence because of left foot and ankle injuries.
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