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Tony Romo doesn't protect the ball

IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo hasn't thrown an interception in three weeks but his fourth quarter turnover, a fumble, his third of the season, gives him 16 turnovers for 2012.

That's a bad number for a quarterback whom the team believes is an elite player with one year remaining on his contract. Romo hasn't protected the football well with his decision making but his turnover issues weren't a problem of late until the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns.

With the Cowboys ahead, 17-13, with about 5:20 to play in the game, Romo moved up in the pocket and failed to keep the ball close to his body. It's interesting this happened because coach Jason Garrett was talking about how Romo keeps the ball close to his body to avoid defenders from knocking it away while he's in the pocket. But Romo was trying to avoid the rush of defensive end Frostee Rucker when things went badly. Romo kept the ball away from his body, allowing Rucker to swing his arms down to knock the ball loose.

"We were right at the cusp of field goal range and I'm thinking of throwing the ball away to the right," Romo said. "As I slide, I was thinking after Dez (Bryant) came inside, there was no throw away, it would be intentional grounding to throw it to the left. I feel pressure and I work right to try and get the ball outside over the guys head or whatever I could do. In the process of doing that, I need to hold onto the ball and not let the guy come from behind and let the ball come out."