Tony Romo waited four years to get his first NFL start. Now it looks as if he’ll have the job for some time.
Romo rallied Dallas from a 14-point first-quarter deficit, throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown, and Julius Jones ran for 94 yards and a score to help the Cowboys beat Carolina, 35-14, Sunday night.
Dallas set a team record with 25 fourth-quarter points. Romo, starting in place of benched Drew Bledsoe, slowly led the Cowboys (4-3) back with poise, using a variety of short passes to a number of receivers. Early in the fourth quarter, facing a third and 12 from the Carolina 21-yard line, Romo sidestepped pressure and fired a 16-yard pass to Jason Witten. But the drive stalled when Romo misfired to Witten in the end zone. Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 24-yard field goal to cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, Sam Hurd ripped the ball from Brad Hoover and recovered the fumble at the Carolina 14. On the next play, Jones ran untouched up the middle for the touchdown. The Cowboys added the two-point conversion when Romo faked a draw and threw a pass to Terrell Owens to make it 21-14.
Owens had nine catches for 107 yards and was impressed by Romo’s poise.
“Tony gives us a different change of pace,” Owens said. “He gets the ball out quick, and he gave us some chances. Everybody came up with some big plays today. Jason Witten played tremendous over the middle.”
Dallas helped seal the victory when Roy Williams intercepted Jake Delhomme’s throw on the next possession. Delhomme lost another fumble for Carolina (4-4) with less than two minutes left.
For only the second time in his career, Dallas Coach Bill Parcells won a game after trailing by 14 points in the first quarter. It helped justify his decision to end Bledsoe’s streak of 70 consecutive starts. Bledsoe paced the sideline for most of the game, occasionally glancing down at the play chart on his wrist, while applauding Romo’s performance.
“We haven’t been having a lot of fun around here. They’re having fun right now,” Parcells said. “That’s the thing that I enjoy the most. When I see the faces of those players.”