It took Tony Romo until the fourth quarter to go over 100 yards passing.
That is no way to get rid of a reputation for December failures.
Romo, leading a team that entered the weekend tied for the division lead, delivered two touchdown passes in the first half, but was out-performed by his counterpart, the Chicago Bears’ Josh McCown, in a Monday night game before a national audience looking for signs that confirmed or debunked the December rep.
“I just think we’ve got to have everything we can possibly get out of him,” owner Jerry Jones said. “That doesn’t have to be flawless to win a football game. But we’ve got to count on getting some stops. You have to get some stops.”
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Romo threw three touchdown passes, but the Cowboys were playing catch-up for most of the game.
Romo could not move the Cowboys as consistently as McCown, or use his receivers — Dez Bryant and Jason Witten — as consistently as McCown used his. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
That left Romo and the Cowboys trailing 24-14 at halftime, and by the time the third quarter was over, it was 35-14.
“I thought we did some good things on offense,” coach Jason Garrett said. “It became one of those games, we had to match serve every time. We weren’t able to do that, and the game got out of hand.”
Romo threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Cole Beasley, cutting the lead to 42-21, but the game was out realistically out of reach. And if there was any doubt about that, the Bears answered with a field goal that gave the Cowboys a chance to sit Romo for the rest of the game and let backup Kyle Orton finish.
Romo went to the bench with a December record that dropped to 11-16.
But Jones put no stock in that.
“I really don’t think I’ve ever made a decision regarding Tony in any way that involved a thought about his December record,” he said. “It just is not an issue. Now, we need to win a game. We need to win next week, but the December thing is not a big factor in the things I need to look at.”
Romo finished 11-of-20 for 104 yards, was sacked twice, with no interceptions and a 109.2 quarterback rating in the coldest regular-season game in Cowboys history.
Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said the weather did not seem to affect Romo.
“I thought Tony handled it well early on,” Wilson said. “He’s not one to wear a glove. Guys were running good routes. Don’t think it was that big of an issue.”
Romo’s performance followed two strong outings, in which he threw for 459 yards and three touchdowns combined against the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders, victories that put the Cowboys ahead by a half-game in the NFC East.
The passing total was the fourth-lowest of Romo’s career.