The Tony Romo story has always teased us with the promise of a happy ending.
The big story — the one with a trophy at the end — remains to be written.
But the individual chapters, the ones like Sunday night’s, continue to tease and intrigue.
If you’re scoring along at home, the Dallas Cowboys’ last-gasp 27-26 victory over the New York Giants marked quarterback Romo’s 24th fourth-quarter-or-later comeback.
That’s 24 times that he’s charmed victory out of the scowls of defeat. That’s 24 times that he’s foiled the villain and untied the fair maiden from the railroad tracks. That’s 24 times that he’s turned water into wine.
It wasn’t Romo’s fault that for most of Sunday night, the season opener loomed as the most exasperating and inexplicable in franchise memory. How the Cowboys could dominate the first half, yet nearly go into the intermission with a double-digit deficit became a festering mystery.
One reason was a surprise. Of all the weaponry that Romo was expected to have at his disposal, sure-handed and quick-footed wide receivers were considered certain money in the bank.
Excuse the cash metaphor because, indeed, the squeaky wheel got the grease this summer. Especially the cog who whined the most and practiced the least, wide receiver Dez Bryant.
When the boss hands you a five-year, $70-million contract — $45 million of which is guaranteed and $32 million of which is already in your bank account — it seems reasonable that certain things are expected of you on opening night.
But when Romo and the offense needed him at the end, Bryant was injured, sidelined by what was reported to be a broken foot.
For Dez, it was the final stroke in a season-opening night to forget. He was a relative non-factor in the Cowboys’ frustrating first two quarters, and even spent part of the half back in the locker room being treated for dehydration.
With the diagnosis on his foot, Bryant’s low-activity summer is likely to come under scrutiny. He went from a well-publicized threatened holdout to a new contract to a hamstring injury to a brow-raising interview with Rolling Stone.
Not much football, in other words. Maybe it made him thirsty.
And then Sunday night’s late news, that the team’s best receiver will be lost for an estimated 4-to-6 weeks.
Bryant finished with five receptions for only 48 yards. At halftime, the other two regular wideouts, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams, had a combined three catches for 34 yards.
Beasley’s fumble along the sideline was most responsible for turning around the first half. Then, late in the game, backup receiver Devin Street had a pass pop loose and the Giants returned the interception to the 1-yard line.
Down 23-13, however, Romo had another breathless ending to write.
“I thought he was fantastic,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought he showed great poise, great patience, great understanding of what he had to do.”
But that’s Romo, who has faced that dark alley before.
His patience and confidence in his receivers meant that Romo had no qualms about calling upon Beasley and Williams on the final two drives.
The winning touchdown play was Romo at his dimpled best. He mishandled the center snap, but calmly picked up the football at his feet, waited and found Jason Witten at the goal line.
Another opening night, another chapter in the Tony Romo story.
In this of all Cowboys seasons, who knows what ending lies ahead?