Tony Romo sports the highest passer rating in the fourth quarter, and he entered Sunday’s game with 22 fourth-quarter comebacks.
So was there any doubt what would happen when the Cowboys got the ball back at their own 20, needing a touchdown, with 3:00 to play?
It took Romo only seven plays and 1:59 to reach the end zone, with a 13-yard pass to Dez Bryant capping the comeback.
“I think more than anything you just through experience, through time, you understand you have to go into a certain mindset,” Romo said. “A lot of it is just throughout the football game, you have to take yourself back to during the week and what you studied on tape and what you think that they’re going to want to do to attack you. You kind of hang your hat on these plays to start and get yourself moving, to give yourself what you feel like is an advantage. It’s a calming feeling. You’re almost just doing what you decided before the game, if that makes sense. Once you get moving into the series, then obviously you’re going to call the plays and going to come up with the stuff that you feel best doing. But more than that, it’s just three minutes, you have two timeouts. That’s a different situation than one minute, no timeouts. You have to prepare for those situations. You just have to get yourself going. You have to get yourself started. Once you do that, it usually flows and you have to stay calm, stay in the moment and just play each play by itself.”
Romo finished 18-of-26 for 275 yards with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 143.4.
Early in the game, Romo was getting outplayed by Eli Manning, and Dez Bryant was getting outshone by Odell Beckham Jr. Then, Romo and Bryant showed up and showed out.
After Romo found Bryant for a 31-yard touchdown with 1:08 remaining in the third quarter, the Cowboys had their first lead at 24-21. The Giants regained it, though, in the fourth quarter, to set up the final act in the drama.
“We did have the stage set for a potential great comeback for him,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “…I do think Tony should deserve a lot of credit for engineering that drive.”
Romo went 6-for-6 for 66 yards and a touchdown in the final drive, with Bryant catching three of the passes for 25 yards and the 50th score of his career. Bryant finished with seven catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
“You just gain an understanding that you’re never really out of it,” Romo said. “You’re comfortable being in uncomfortable situations. That comes through having been through it, experienced it, and then having to go out and figure out a way to win. Once you do that a few times, you start to kind of get that feeling, and the team can believe in that.”
The only other play in the seven-play, game-winning scoring drive was a 9-yard run by DeMarco Murray on third-and-one.
It was Romo’s game to win, and he did.
The Cowboys twice trailed by 11 points, but they never gave up.
“We talked about mental toughness and fight,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “We’ve been in a lot of these games over the years and somehow, someway we’ve been on the other side of them.
“…We fought together. It was a big win.”
Romo appears to have recovered nicely from the two transverse process fractures in his back, which kept him out of the Nov. 2 loss to the Cardinals. In the two games since, the Cowboys are 2-0, with Romo completing 38 of 53 passes for 521 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 142.4.
For the season, Romo has thrown for 2,499 yards with 22 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
“It will be I think the most negative thing about my ownership, in my mind, if Tony has the career here, and we don’t win a Super Bowl with him,” Jones said. “That will be the most negative thing to have had his talent come through this organization, and we not get a Super Bowl. He’s outstanding, and he’s outstanding at winning games, coming from behind. He’s outstanding at basically quarterbacking in winning situations. This was an outstanding game. He played a great game I thought against Jacksonville. He’s played some of his finest games this year.”