For a while there, Week 16 felt a lot like Week 17 last year. FedEx Field could have been where the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff dreams died again.
But Tony Romo did what he couldn’t do last season.
Instead of an interception on a pass intended for DeMarco Murray, which is what happened in 2012, Romo’s pass settled safely in Murray’s hands. The running back did the rest, saving the season.
“It feels better [than last year],” Romo said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games over the last three years, and I think a lot of that is because we’re not a football team that is going to go out and consistently win 40-10. I think that’s everyone’s goal, but it’s not reality. The more times you put yourself in these situations, you’ve got to keep getting better. For us, it’s just, you have to have a stronger belief in yourself than the doubt of other people. I think our football team has that.”
The Cowboys live to see another day thanks to Romo’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Murray that gave them a 24-23 victory over the Washington Redskins.
After beating the December odds — Romo is 12-17 in the month in his career — Romo now can defy another: He is 1-for-6 in win-or-go-home-games in his career. The Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title Sunday.
“I know in some ways we’ve gotten hit with the fact of losing the last couple of years in that final game, but I think we’re the only team that keeps getting itself in position to win the NFC East every year,” Romo said. “That’s a credit, that’s also a negative in the fact we didn’t do it the last couple of years. You just have to keep getting yourself there. When your team is doing that, you’re knocking on that door.”
Romo fought through a tight back to engineer a fourth-quarter comeback from nine points down. It was his 20th career fourth-quarter comeback, his second this season.
Romo tripped over Rob Jackson’s foot in the fourth quarter and, after completing a 9-yard pass to Miles Austin, limped back to the huddle in obvious pain. His back, he said, was tight last week.
“For whatever reason, the twist or whatever it was, it definitely made it not feel comfortable,” said Romo, who went 17-of-27 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. “ … It’s completely in a different spot than the back stuff I had last year so that’s a good sign.”
Romo completed four of six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown on the game-winning drive. He had a 51-yard pass to Terrance Williams, buying time by moving out of the pocket to his right.
“It was more of the scramble coming into play,” Williams said. “I saw him break the pocket, and the rule is when you go short, you are supposed to go back deep. I made a move, [the corner] slipped, and he threw the ball.”
A Romo pass to Dez Bryant on the next play gained 17 to the Washington 4, but three runs by Murray took the Cowboys backward. They faced fourth-and-goal from the 10, and Romo again bought time before finding Murray in the right flat for a touchdown with 1:08 left.
“Tony did Houdini,” Bryant said.
This one ended with a different feel.