With the Dallas Cowboys down two touchdowns, only 53 yards and seven points to their name, something came to life in Tony Romo.
He became the quarterback the Cowboys believe can take them where they all want to go.
“You see it on his face,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said. “And you just want to be in there with him; you want to go to battle with him. You don’t want to screw it up. You can tell he wants it. It makes us all want it even more than we thought.”
The Cowboys’ 73-yard drive, to DeMarco Murray’s 4-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds left in the first half, got them back within a touchdown at halftime. Romo completed 5 of 7 passes for 69 yards in the march, masterfully using Jason Witten, Murray and Bryant.
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Before that, the Cowboys had punted four times and produced points only on a 2-yard drive. They trailed 21-7 and had the ball at their 27, with 1:48 to go.
“The drive at the end of the half was as important as any drive in the game,” Romo said. “We were down 14 and they were getting the ball to start the second half. So I was just proud of the guys and what we did there.”
Romo, who played sick, finished the game with 225 yards passing and a passer rating of 101.7.
After the momentum-changing drive, Romo completed 12 of 12 passes in the second half, including 9 for 9 in the third quarter.
Bryant said the guy to be proud of from that drive is the player wearing No. 9.
“Nine,” Bryant said. “All I can say. Nine.”
“You know, we get him in 2-minute warnings, he’s already a beast. That’s beast time, too. That’s exactly what he showed. Whenever he’s doing things like that, like I said, it just boosts every one of these guys up in this locker room and makes them want to play harder. It brings guys something that we didn’t know we had.”
The Cowboys must have used it the rest of the game.
The touchdown drive was the first of three consecutive scoring drives for the Cowboys, who went from a 21-7 deficit to leading 28-21.
“We knew once we got it going, we’d be all right,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “Everybody decided to stay patient, keep their composure and eventually make plays, and we did that.”
Bryant said things changed at halftime.
“We just had to get up out of our comfort zone,” he said. “I guess we were feeling too comfortable. We came in at halftime and we were feeling great, like, ‘We got this.’
“Our whole demeanor changed in that locker room. We were ready to go in that second half. The intensity level that we showed in the second half, I know we need to bring that to the first half.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the drive was big, but so was digging out of a hole created by the opening turnover.
“Nobody blinked,” Garrett said. “We knew it would be about execution, and we needed to fight and simply do what we needed to do — get stops and get the ball moving. Then the momentum kind of turned, and our guys’ good feelings continued.”