Romo after 100 starts: Impressive, with flaws
(Eds: Updates with details, quotes. Should stand. With AP Photos.)
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Sports Writer
The Dallas quarterback takes that impressive stat into Sunday's game against Detroit, which beat the Cowboys two years ago with a huge rally fueled by the downside of Romo's resume -- critical turnovers.
Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, Romo's new play-calling partner after taking over those duties from coach Jason Garrett, says he hasn't "spent a minute" looking at video from that 34-30 loss to the Lions.
Callahan showed his faith last week by riding Romo's arm to a touchdown in a 17-3 win over Philadelphia right after an interception that was similar to the 2011 Detroit game.
"Trust is a really, really important word -- in any organization, first and foremost," Garrett said. "And certainly you have to have a lot of trust when you're trying to execute offensive ball plays."
The Cowboys trust in Romo -- good or bad.
He's been mostly good in his seventh full season as the starter. He joined Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman as Dallas quarterbacks with at least 100 career starts, throwing for 317 yards against the Eagles to put him at 27,485 as a starter.
That's 44 more yards than Warner and 211 better than Marino. It's nearly 10,000 yards better than Staubach or Aikman, but the number that matters most in that comparison is Super Bowl titles.
Staubach has two, Aikman three.
There will never be a shortage of people to remind Romo how many he has, until he wins one anyway.
"You know that, and that's what it's going to come down to," said Romo, the franchise leader in touchdown passes and second to Aikman in other major categories. "That's what your goals are."
The Cowboys were on the verge of a 3-1 start in 2011, leading the Lions 27-3 in the third quarter when Romo threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and a third that set up Detroit's winning score.
Dallas went on to the first of consecutive 8-8 seasons, both ending with losses in playoffs-or-bust finales. What made it worse was Romo only had seven interceptions combined in the other 15 games, and the Cowboys wasted his only season with a 100-plus quarterback rating.
"There were a lot of good things in that game," Garrett said. "Obviously we didn't finish that game the way we wanted to throughout our football team. We turned the ball over on offense and hopefully that's something we learned from."
Maybe so, and maybe Romo showed it last week against Philadelphia.
The Eagles were struggling on offense, down 10-0 late in the third quarter. Romo threw an interception that was the fault of running back Phillip Tanner for a wrong route that steered a pass intended for someone else into the path of linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
Philadelphia took over at the Dallas 30 and reached the 9 before settling for a field goal.
Callahan's response? Eight passes by Romo on a 10-play drive that ended with a 9-yard scoring toss to rookie Terrance Williams. Romo had seven completions for 69 yards.
"The mental side of the game is really intriguing for me because he has such a great feel for coverage and he sees things and he knows what defenses are doing," Callahan said. "He's been really astute in that respect. That's what really impresses me."
Romo's interception against the Eagles was just his fifth of the season, much closer to the fewest in the league than the most, which is where he spent most of last season after a rash of picks early in the year.
The 33-year-old's QB rating is over 100 again, and he has the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East and facing the Lions with a chance to for a three-game winning streak -- just like two years ago.
"If you're just a fan of quarterback play, you kind of sit there and get mesmerized watching him play the position," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "I think he does an unbelievable job of keeping plays alive."
He kept the Lions alive in 2011, something he'll try avoid if he finds himself in the same position this time around.
NOTES: The Cowboys said on their website that safety J.J. Wilcox was set for an MRI on Thursday after injuring a knee in practice. ... DE DeMarcus Ware still hasn't returned to practice with a strained right quadriceps. He missed the first game of his nine-year career last week. ... RB DeMarco Murray has been a limited participant in practice after missing last week with a sprained ligament in his left knee.
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