PHILADELPHIA -- The quarterback who missed all of 2016 appeared on the first day of 2017 to lead the Dallas Cowboys on a eight-play scoring drive at the beginning of the second quarter in the Cowboys' 27-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Romo, who broke his back in the preseason and was ultimately supplanted by rookie Dak Prescott, went 3-for-4 for 30 yards and hit receiver Terrance Williams on a 3-yard touchdown that was reminiscent of his aerial attack while under center for Dallas in his 14-year career. The touchdown gave Dallas a 10-3 lead with 10:15 in the second quarter.
While the touchdown throw looked like it had the typical improvisation behind it, Romo insisted it was planned.
Said Romo: "We planned it. We had it ready to go."
"I thought he did a really nice job in the game," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "A tribute to himself and his preparation in getting ready each week to play. He's obviously played a lot of football. He's played a lot in this offense. He looked comfortable out there today. He made some good decisions."
The 36-year-old showed no problems with his back when on his first play since Thanksgiving 2015 he heaved a pass 60 yards downfield for Williams that fell incomplete.
"Just a little communication on it," Romo said. "I've known Terrance a long time. Terrance is probably one of the most underrated, if not the most underrated, receivers in the NFL. His growth from when he got here to where he is, it's much improved without going into great detail. He's one of the better receivers in the National Football League. He's a great player."
On a third-and-12 two plays later, Romo connected with Williams for a 16-yard pass. Receiver Dez Bryant was the recipient for another Romo deep ball, but cornerback Nolan Carroll interfered with Bryant to set up the Cowboys at the 3-yard line.
Said Garrett: "The third-and-12 was a big play and then he got it going and did a good job down in the red zone cashing in on it."
When Williams scored the touchdown and the Eagles went three-and-out, Romo's day was done after six plays.
"We felt like that was the right amount of time for him," said Garrett. "He looked comfortable out there handling the mechanics of the game. He hasn't played in a little while.
"It sounds simple. But getting the call from the sideline and handling the mechanics of the line of scrimmage, you know, just wanted to see him do that. And he obviously did a good job of that and executed the plays very well."
Prescott was impressed with the play of the four-time Pro Bowler in his first action in over 400 days.
"Y'all have seen what he's done in this league for a long time," said Prescott. "It's no different at practice. It was no different in this time tonight."
In came quarterback Mark Sanchez, who went 1-for-5 for nine yards in the first half and threw two interceptions. He would finish the game going 9-for-17 for 85 yards and two interceptions. He led the Cowboys on just one scoring drive that resulted in a 23-yard field goal from kicker Dan Bailey to take a 13-10 lead over the Eagles with 9:20 in the third quarter.
Garrett says the Cowboys were not going to go back to Romo or Prescott no matter how bad Sanchez performed.
"It's just what we wanted to do. We wanted Dak to play in the game, get a series or two. We wanted Tony to play in the game, get a series or two. And then we wanted Sanchez to finish the ballgame," Garrett explained.
Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz played the entire game and completed 27 passes on 43 attempts for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys defense sacked Wentz twice with second-year defensive end Randy Gregory, who had been suspended for 14 games, earning his first career sack.
Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz caught all of Wentz's two touchdown passes with receptions of six and 20 yards. The third-year tight end finished the game with 13 catches for 139 yards and two scores.
Byron Marshall led all rushers with 10 carries for 42 yards. Darren Sproles had nine rushes for 32 yards while Ty Watson also had nine carries for 28 yards.
Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott did not play a snap; veterans Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Lance Dunbar carried the load with the three rushers combined for 18 rushes for 60 yards.
Defensive lineman Jack Crawford and linebacker Andrew Gachkar split a sack. Second-year linebacker Damien Wilson led the team with eight tackles with Gregory in second with seven and safety Byron Jones third with six.
Prescott started the first two series of the game going 4-for-8 for 37 yards. He also carried the ball once for nine yards.
4:00 1st Quarter -- Caleb Sturgis kicks a 21-yard field goal. 3-0 Eagles
14:55 2nd Quarter -- Dan Bailey kicks a 49-yard field goal. 3-3 tie
10:15 2nd Quarter -- Terrance Williams catches a 3-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo. 10-3 Cowboys
0:10 2nd Quarter -- Zach Ertz catches a 6-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz. 10-10 tie
9:20 3rd Quarter -- Dan Bailey kicks a 23-yard field goal. 13-10 Cowboys
5:02 3rd Quarter -- Zach Ertz catches a 20-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz. 17-13 Eagles
2:21 4th Quarter -- Caleb Sturgis kicks a 33-yard field goal. 20-13 Eagles
1:26 4th Quarter -- Terrell Watson rushes for a 1-yard touchdown. 27-13 Eagles
* Jordan Hicks now has four interceptions, a forced fumble, a sack, and a quarterback knockout in his four career games against the Cowboys.
* Ertz's 13 catches are tied with Antonio Brown's for the most caught against the 2016 Cowboys defense.
* This is the first time since Nov. 12, 1995 versus San Francisco the Cowboys played three different quarterbacks. Dallas also lost that game 38-20.
* With 36 sacks, the 2016 Cowboys will finish with the most of the Rod Marinelli/Monte Kiffin era.
* With nine interceptions on the year, the 2016 will finish with the fewest of the Rod Marinelli/Monte Kiffin era.
* The last time the Cowboys had a punt blocked was Oct. 12, 2014 in a 30-23 win in Seattle.
* This is the first time since Nov. 25, 2010 versus New Orleans that Bryant did not register a catch.
THE FINAL WORD
"I know there's a million other questions we can talk about. And part of that is all just, for the football team, it just doesn't help to talk about everything that we could discuss. For me, I genuinely feel like I understand the questions and they're good ones to have answered. We'll get to that later. I think Dak has done a great job and he's been a good teammate. We wish him the best." -- Romo on how he thought Prescott played in 2016
"Looking forward. Eyes are all on the playoff game. We'll see who our opponent is. But in the meantime, we'll use this week to get better in every way that we can and then we'll figure out who it is and continued to get better and get ready for that opponent." -- Dak Prescott on what the Cowboys do nextnull