IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has gone from conciliatory to defiant.
Two days after taking full blame for the team's 27-24 season-opening loss to the New York Jets, due to his fumble and interception in the final 10 minutes, refueling local and national criticism about his ability to perform in clutch situations, Romo offered no retreat.
But there was no give up or give in by Romo to his growing legion of critics. He said he can't wait to get back on the field against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Showing poise and leadership during a 12-minute interview with the media Wednesday, Romo said he will learn from mistakes, while repeatedly vowing that they won't happen again.
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"Anyone who thinks that I'm going to fold up the tent around here or this team is, they don't know us very well, and this team is going to come back with great energy this week," Romo said. "I'm going to come back with great energy, and we're going to play good football going forward."
What happened at the end of the game? It's just about winning and losing. I mean at the end of the day some games come up different. We always remember what just happened recently and for me I'm the same way. Like I said after the game, you have the ball in your hands and you have to be smart with the ball and I will be going forward. That's just an example and a situation I'll learn from, and it won't happen again.
Do you think this was a temporary step back? You learn through experiences in football and in life, and one of the great tools you gain just from your faith in general, is just that: when adversity hits, it allows you to become better from it, so you can either go one direction or the other. I think it's a great tool to get better and improve, and that's the way I'm taking it.
How important is the support you've gotten from inside the locker room and the front office? I think that's why part of the greatness in this game of football is just having people around you that believe in you and you believe in them. When you're able to accomplish the goals you set out as a team, it makes it extremely rewarding. The rest of the season isn't going to go without a hiccup, but I do know that we're going to just keep coming together and get closer, and we'll see what happens when this is all said and done.
Does it bother you that people continue to define you by your failures rather than your successes? I understand that. That's part of playing this position, part of being the quarterback for a football team in the NFL. I accept that and I know that and that's why I work as hard as I can. That's why going forward that it will be different than it was last Sunday.
Have you always been mentally tough enough to handle this or have you learned over time? Probably a little bit of both. I think you have to have thick skin and you also have to be able to go out and learn from what you did, you get humbled in a lot of different ways over the years and that's just part of playing quarterback in the NFL. If you have the ability and you have the mental makeup, you'll overcome it and you'll come back a better player from it. If you don't, then you won't.
After watching tape, which mistakes stuck in you more, the fumble or the interception? They both did. Part of the reason on the fumble play, you think you're being safe by not throwing the ball. That's once again another learning experience. If it's not there to actually score, then we need to just get down. So they both are a tough play.
Does being your own toughest critic make it easier on you? I'm more disappointed in myself than any of you guys, or any national guru guy could ever be. It happened. It's over with.
With the way things snowballed last year after the season-opening loss, how important is it to win this week? The story right now is obviously about the way the game finished last week. As we move on into the season, that will change, and it's up to us to go out and make a different story, and we're going to do that.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.