Romo Review: '9 Was A Baller' Vs. Ravens

ARLINGTON, Texas – He’s back. Tony Romo's performance and numbers in Dallas is preseason lost to the Ravens say it is so. So does Dez Bryant, who notes, 'He wanted to show the world he is '9' and he's a baller.'



Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo made his preseason debut Saturday in a 37-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. It was Romo’s first action since December 22, 2013 when a herniated disc and ensuing surgery kept him out of the season finale.

The three-time Pro Bowler went 4 of 5 for 80 yards and a touchdown in his two series with the first-team offense. Romo dazzled spectators when he threw a 31-yard touchdown to receiver Dez Bryant to finish his night midway through the first quarter. Romo’s 158.3 passer rating was his best preseason performance ever, and would also have been a career-best had the contest with Baltimore been a regular-season game.

Romo’s first series got off to an inauspicious start. On first-and-10 from the Dallas 18, rookie guard Zack Martin committed a holding penalty that pushed Dallas back to its own 9, to first-and-19. A play later, on second-and-19, Romo found Bryant for a 21-yard gain.

After picking up another first down on the ground, the offense had first-and-10 from their own 40. Tyron Smith’s holding penalty moved Dallas back 10 yards, and then football disaster struck. From shotgun, Romo attempted to hand running back DeMarco Murray a draw, but they fumbled the exchange. Ravens defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw scooped up the ball and rumbled into the end zone 26 yards for a touchdown, with Romo, bad back and all, tugging onto Upshaw’s jersey from the turf.

“I was trying to improve my career statistics on defense,” Romo joked.

Following the fumble, a balanced drive helped Dallas pull even to 7-7 after a Dan Bailey extra point. Murray rushed five times for 25 yards, and Romo went 3 of 4 for 58 yards and a touchdown. On Romo’s touchdown pass to Bryant, pressure engulfed the 34-year-old passer, but he remained poised and delivered a deep ball to deliver the strike.

“[Dez] was able to see it and kind of take advantage and went up and scored,” Romo said.

“It was great to see.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thought Romo's work was great to see, too.



Romo had two instances of standing tall in the pocket and remaining confident in his back. On the series after the fumble, Romo scrambled and bought time after a play-action fake. With no one open, Romo checked down to tight end James Hanna, who dropped the ball incomplete. The touchdown pass to Bryant was another such instance of not letting the pressure rattle him.

All in all, it begs the question of how the quarterback feels coming off of back surgery into his ninth season as a starter.

Said Romo: “You never know coming off an injury how you’re going to feel, the progression it’s going to take, the time frame, I guess you could say. You have an idea, but it’s nice to see you can go out and play and your back holds up, your body holds up."

There are defensive issues around here that won't go away any time soon. (KD Drummond and Fish will have the detailed breakdown of all that and more throughout the weekend.) But one major concern just got alleviated.

Romo’s 158.3 passer rating ties him with San Diego’s Kellen Clemens and Arizona’s Carson Palmer for highest passer rating of the preseason with a minimum of five attempts. In addition to extra rest, another good therapy for an aging quarterback’s recovery is an impenetrable offensive line, which the Cowboys first team offensive group displayed Saturday night.

Smile

“There’s always going to be talk until you come back and go do it,” Romo explained. “It’s part of anybody going through surgery, but we’re doing it.

“It’s going well.”


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