Gil LeBreton

Cowboys, Tony Romo continue their redemption drama

Star-Telegram

Always with the drama.

For the Dallas Cowboys, a quick and stunning 21-0 lead over the favored Philadelphia Eagles apparently wasn’t theatrical enough.

They had to squander their good fortune in the third quarter and then resurrect themselves.

The Cowboys, lest anyone forget, failed to win a single game during the exhibition season, prompting forecasts of familiar doom.

Along the way, they’ve had to overcome back pain, rib pain and the pain of being steamrolled on Thanksgiving by these same Eagles.

But all good stories are about overcoming things. Even December things.

After Sunday night’s 38-27 victory over Philadelphia, the Cowboys’ path to postseason redemption is now clear. Tony Romo and the gang have the division lead and a firm hand around the Eagles’ necks.

And to think, Romo and his post-surgical back were among the team’s deepest worries for most of the season. He’s now on the threshold of supplanting DeMarco Murray as the season’s brightest hero.

On the Sunday night stage, Romo completed 22 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. More than the numbers, though, he was masterfully efficient, biding his time and finding open receivers, just as he’s done for most of the Cowboys’ 10-4 season.

If it’s pain injections that have enabled quarterback Romo to soldier on through 14 games, or if we’re simply seeing the “best of Tony” that he promised in the summer, he has elevated his game.

Maybe it’s just the pass blocking that the young offensive line is doing. But for Romo, it’s as if a cloud has parted. He can see Dez Bryant. He can see his old buddy Jason Witten. He can even find little Cole Beasley.

For long stretches, both early in the game and late, the Philadelphia defense didn’t seem to know where Romo was going with the football. Witten caught seven passes, but Bryant kept finding open space and caught six balls, three of them for touchdowns.

None of the Romo-to-Bryant throws was more decisive than the textbook-perfect bomb that hit Bryant in stride down the right sideline. The 25-yard touchdown pushed the Cowboys’ second-half lead to 35-24 at a time when the Eagles were threatening to make it a struggle to the finish.

Another week, another road trip, another Cowboys victory.

The victory lifted the Cowboys’ record away from AT&T Stadium to a head-scratching 7-0.

Clearly, something uncanny happens to coach Jason Garrett’s team this season when it hits the NFL road. Garrett contended last week that it’s the camaraderie and freedom from distraction that playing away from home affords. It can’t all be the hotel room service.

The distraction theory has merit. But let me suggest that away from their $1.2 billion Arlington palace, the Cowboys have found a way to discover who they are.

Maybe more accurately, who they no longer are.

They are no longer a team that refuses to assert itself by running the football. They have a quarterback who no longer thinks he has win games by himself. They have a coaching staff that can finally show them the way.

Romo seems to have learned that he doesn’t have to slay the dragon to win the day. He’s showing his team how a league MVP plays.

The path is clear. December, always fraught with past drama, suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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