Rusty Romo Regains His Mojo Quickly For Cowboys

The Redskins got off to a strong start after celebrating Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, but the Cowboys rallied in the fourth quarter and held on for a 14-10 win with fourth quarter drives fueled by running back Marion Barber.
By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 17, 2008

As the postgame interview session for Dallas quarterback Tony Romo wound down, a Cowboys official announced from the back of the room there was time for just one final question.

Romo answered a reporter's query about his frustration at not being able to make the throws he normally would in Dallas's 14-10 win because of a splint on his throwing hand protecting a broken pinkie. But after he finished his comments, the star quarterback looked up and smiled.

"We can do a few more," Romo said. "I like this."

The answer communicated clearly Romo's upbeat mood following his first game back after a four-week absence because of the injury. And despite two first-half interceptions, Romo had plenty to be happy about in his return.

The Pro Bowl quarterback rebounded from the early turnovers to finish the game with 198 yards passing and tossed the game-winning touchdown -- a 25-yard strike to tight end Martellus Bennett with 10 minutes 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. And with their starting quarterback in the lineup again, the Cowboys' offense showed more life than it had in the previous weeks.

Marion Barber, who entering last night's game had averaged 3.3 yards per carry against the Redskins in his career, finished with 114 yards and a touchdown -- including 10 carries and a reception on 11 consecutive plays in Dallas's game-ending drive that ran off the final 6:40. The Cowboys finished with 315 yards of total offense.

Romo had emphasized the importance of this game throughout the week, and afterward he reiterated the significance of leaving Washington with a win.

"I told the guys the time is now," Romo said. "It's a show-me game, and we had to go out there and show each other and show ourselves that we can play good football or play good enough to win against a really good football team on the road."

Romo seemed to be a bit rusty early.

His first-quarter pass to Terrell Owens on third down deep in Redskins territory was well behind the wide receiver and was intercepted by Washington's newest acquisition, cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "I just couldn't get a good grip on the ball," Romo said.

Romo again was picked off to end a drive in the second quarter, though this time his pass hit its intended target but was jarred loose and picked out of the air by linebacker Rocky McIntosh.

But as the game continued Romo settled in.

He hit four consecutive passes on the Cowboys' first scoring drive in the final minutes of the first half -- including a 28-yard strike to Jason Witten and a 25-yarder to Owens that set up Barber's two-yard touchdown run.

And on third and seven at the Washington 33-yard line in the fourth quarter, Romo scrambled in the pocket and shoveled a pass to Miles Austin for an eight-yard gain, keeping the drive alive.

One play later, Romo hit Bennett for the touchdown that put Dallas ahead for good.

Dallas Coach Wade Phillips said the shovel pass was perhaps an indication Romo was comfortable on the field again. But Romo played down that thought, saying he just had to make the play.

Still, Romo was not shy in discussing his excitement at coming back and at being able to pull out a win on the road against a division opponent and longtime rival.

"I said it to [Witten] before the game, I said, 'You know I just miss playing ball,' " Romo said. "I think it's fun to get back out here and play. And it gave me a chance to miss the game quite a bit. And it's so much fun. It's even more fun when you win. Especially when it's an important game. I'm excited for the guys. I'm happy."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company