Undrafted free agent QB Tony Romo waited four years to get his first NFL start. It looks like 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 rushed for 94 yards and a score as the Cowboys beat the Carolina Panthers 35-14 Sunday. Dallas set a team record with 25 fourth-quarter points.
Romo, starting in place of the benched Drew Bledsoe, slowly lead the Cowboys (4-3) back, with poise, using a variety of short passes to a number receivers.
"It's been tough, you never know, the change that we made at quarterback," Romo said. "You never know what you're going to get ... with a new starter who is untested. I was anxious just like Bill was to see what we were going to do out their tonight."
Early in the fourth quarter, facing a third-and-12 from the Carolina 21, Romo sidestepped pressure and fired a 16-yard pass to Jason Witten. But the drive stalled, and after Romo misfired to Witten in the end zone on third down, 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 then completed the 2-point conversion when Romo faked a draw and threw a pass to Terrell Owens to make it 21-14.
Dallas sealed the win when Roy Williams intercepted Jake Delhomme's throw on the next possession. Delhomme lost another fumble with under two minutes to go, Carolina's third turnover in the fourth quarter.
Marion Barber had touchdown runs of 3 and 14 yards late as Dallas coach Bill Parcells won a game after trailing by 14 points in the first quarter for only the second time in his career. The victory justified his decision to sit Bledsoe and end his streak of 70 consecutive starts.
Romo completed 24 of 36 passes and had one interception, which led to Steve Smith's 24-yard touchdown run on the next play to make it 14-0 in the second quarter.
But the Panthers (4-4) were plagued by mistakes as they lost their second straight, blowing double-digit leads in both. Instead of Romo struggling in his first NFL start, it was Delhomme, making his 62nd straight start, who had problems. He was 17-of-31 for 149 yards and an interception.
Smith, Michael Gaines, DeShaun Foster and Keyshawn Johnson all dropped passes. Johnson's might have been a touchdown in the third quarter, spoiling his first game against Dallas since he was released in a salary cap move so the Cowboys could sign Terrell Owens.
The Panthers were even plagued by a coaching miscue. John Fox called a timeout late in the first half that wiped out Richard Marshall's blocked field goal. Given a second chance, Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 38-yarder to make it 14-10 at halftime.
Foster rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown for Carolina.
"We haven't been having a lot of fun around here. They're having fun right now," Bill Parcells said afterwards. "That's the thing that I enjoy the most. When I see the faces of those players."
* WR Terrell Owens had a season best performance with nine catches for 107 yards. He now has 753 catches for his career.
* LB Greg Ellis had his best game of the season, notching two sacks and a forced fumble. He now has 4.5 sacks for the season.
* FS Keith Davis started at free safety in place of mistake-prone rookie Pat Watkins. Watkins was inactive and didn't make the trip. Davis was used on rushing downs with veteran Marcus Coleman going in on nickel passing downs.
* RB Marion Barber has scored a touchdown in five of the last six games.
* TE Jason Witten had a season high six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers.
* RB Tyson Thompson suffered a broken ankle against the Panthers and is likely lost for the season.
Romo, Cowboys Rally Past Carolina
CowboysHQ Top Stories
Cowboys Dez Hairline Fracture: The LatestCowboys receiver Dez Bryant says 'I might' when it comes to playing this weekend, even though the MRI has revealed a hairline fracture of the tibia in his right knee.
5 FishTips: Cowboys Winning Gameplan Review5 FishTips: The Cowboys Winning Gameplan In Review
Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry's Cowboys Q&AOn Dez Bryant's MRI + Jerry Jones' Cowboys Q&A, thanks to the team owner's notable, confusing Tuesday visit with 105.3 The Fan ...
CowboysHQYesterday at 9:29 AM
Cowboys Rooks Shine Behind Battered O-LineCowboys Rookies Shine Behind Battered O-Line; Surgery Possible For La'el Collins
CowboysHQMonday at 4:58 PM