This is not Tony Romo’s typical December. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

What’s with these Dallas Cowboys? They’re 3-0 in December and 5-1 after being tied or trailing the fourth quarter of their last six games. Who are these guys?

They have a share of the NFC East lead and can have a say in whether their season extends beyond Dec. 30. First order of business is beating the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“Really, it’s just we’ve gotten to a point where we’re a mentally tough football team,” Tony Romo explained (via the Dallas Morning News). “In saying that, I believe when I step on the field in the fourth quarter, if we’re within 10-14 points, we’re going to find a way to win the ballgame.”

The Cowboys are averaging 15.67 fourth-quarter points over their last six games and Romo is averaging 304 yards, with a 107.4 passer rating, in December. That’s a, how shall we put this kindly, a distinct turnaround. He was 8-13 with an 86 passer rating in December from 2006-2011, according to the News. On Dec. 3, when Romo passed Troy Aikman with his 166th TD pass, he said he wanted more wins. He wasn’t kidding.

“That’s just our mentality of what our football team believes late in football games,” he said.

This could all end well — or not. That’s the essence of Romo, as ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes.

[Y]ou don’t hear much about Romo these days, which is undoubtedly fine with him. Very quietly, he’s moved up to third in the league in passing yards. After throwing 13 interceptions in his first seven games (nine of which were contained in just two games), he’s thrown only three in his last seven. Most importantly, he’s won five out of his last six including all three in December, which as anyone can tell you isn’t supposed to be his month. His season, like that of his surprise-playoff-contender team, has sneaked up on all of us. Admit it, when you saw him Wednesday in Mike Sando’s MVP Watch, your reaction was something like, “Whaaa??? Oh. Yeah. I guess so. Look at that.” 

Now, a reputation is the last thing to go, of course. Romo could play 25 games in a row without an interception and if he threw one in the fourth quarter of Game 26 everybody would say, “See? Same old Romo.” The only way to combat that particular problem is to win a Super Bowl. And while Romo and the Cowboys are still a long way from that, it’s worth considering the idea that this season, in which the noise around Romo seems to have dropped to a whisper, has a chance to turn out to be his very best.

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