Tony Romo did it again.
Just when it seemed the Dallas Cowboys were headed for an inevitable and ugly season-opening loss to the New York Giants, Romo orchestrated a couple of flawless late fourth-quarter drives to rewrite the story with a 27-26 victory.
In the Cowboys’ final two drives, Romo went 11-for-12 for 148 yards and two touchdown passes to, you guessed it, Jason Witten.
“Nobody better than Tony leading the way there on the comeback,” Witten said. “Just unbelievable play. Good for our football team to get this win.”
With the Cowboys trailing 23-13 with 8:01 left in the game, Romo put together the first scoring drive. He hit Witten for 15 yards, Terrance Williams for 16, Cole Beasley for seven and then Williams for another 21.
I thought he was fantastic tonight. He has great poise. His patience was outstanding, getting a couple of throws to Dunbar to get the drive started. … And the big throw to Wit for the touch was unbelievable.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on quarterback Tony Romo
Romo continued dissecting the Giants’ secondary, finding Beasley for 16-yard play to the 1 and then connecting with Witten on an out route for the score.
The Giants responded with a field goal drive and a 26-20 lead, leaving Romo only 1:34 for what became the game-winning drive.
There could have been less time, too, had Giants quarterback Eli Manning taken a sack on third down instead of throwing the ball away, which left 40 precious seconds on the clock.
“Bad clock management for that whole deal,” Manning admitted in his postgame interview.
Romo certainly took advantage.
He again went back to work, finding Lance Dunbar for nice gains (24 and 16 yards) on the first two plays. He then went back to his security blanket, Witten, for 13 yards.
After an incompletion, Romo went to Williams for an 8-yard gain and, with 13 seconds left, hit Witten in the middle for an 11-yard score.
Ballgame and another come-from-behind victory on Romo’s résumé.
“When there is a minute left and the game and we need a touchdown, I ask what parts of the field do I need to attack?” Romo said. “What can I do? We work on that stuff all the time, and we’ve been pretty successful here at it.”
It marked the 24th career come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter or overtime in Romo’s career.
“I thought he was fantastic tonight,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He has great poise. His patience was outstanding, getting a couple of throws to Dunbar to get the drive started. … And the big throw to Wit for the touch was unbelievable.”
And to think Romo had a forgettable night up to that point. There were some concerns that he was following the storyline from the season opener last year against the 49ers.
The 45 passes Tony Romo threw against the Giants was the most passes thrown by Romo since late in the 2013 season.
He had a badly thrown ball to Witten near the end of the first half that went off Witten’s hands and into those of Giants linebacker Uani ‘Unga. That set up a field-goal drive at the end of the first half for the Giants.
In the second half, Romo had another interception, although this was of no fault of his own. He threw a ball right into the hands of Devin Street, and it was knocked into the air by Brandon Meriweather and picked off by Trumaine McBride.
Romo also endured a hard hit on that play from Giants defensive lineman Damontre Moore. But Romo, surgically repaired back and all, didn’t seem to mind taking the hits.
“It didn’t bother me,” Romo said. “I didn’t enjoy the spears to the back. I could do without those in the future, but it’s part of playing the game.”
In the end, though, it’s how Romo finished the game that mattered. He finished 36-for-45 passing for 356 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
That is the most passes thrown by Romo since late in the 2013 season.