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Tony Romo faces strange new reality as Cowboys' backup quarterback

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As he sat half-dressed at his locker putting on a pair of socks, Tony Romo's new reality became clear.

Ten feet to his right, a throng of reporters four or five deep listened intently to rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott's every word. Next to Elliott, a member of the Dallas Cowboys' public relations staff huddled with rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Another large group of reporters waited for wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose locker is adjacent to Romo's, encroaching on the former starting quarterback's space.

A couple of reporters waited for the NFL's highest-paid backup quarterback, one TV camera focused on him.

"Guys, I'm not talking," Romo said as he pulled on a pair of black Gucci loafers. "I appreciate it. Thanks."

Romo spoke briefly to tight end Gavin Escobar, hugged him and left the locker room through the trainer's room so he wouldn't have to face any more media. His cousin carried his duffel bag.

The Cowboys beat the Baltimore Ravens 27-17 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. It was Romo's first game on the sideline as the backup quarterback. Five days earlier, he announced that Prescott had earned the right to be the Cowboys' starting quarterback.

Prescott showed why he has earned the job, passing for 301 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys rallied from a pair of early deficits to win their franchise-record ninth straight game.

A few minutes before the game started, Romo and Prescott played catch to warm up. During the game, Romo wore a headset so he could hear the plays, and he spoke to Prescott between series like he has always done.

"He was as helpful as he always is," said Prescott, "giving me feedback and telling me things we may need to do here and there. The only difference I guess is he was in a uniform. He's been a great help all year."

For a moment in the second quarter, it looked like Romo might have a chance to get in the game. As Prescott rolled right and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cole Beasley, Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley drove Prescott into the turf out of bounds.

Mosley was called for a personal foul, and Prescott was on the turf face first for several moments. Then he slowly got up, walked for a while, then jogged to the Cowboys' sideline.

Prescott led the Cowboys to points on each of their three drives in the second half.

As time expired, a smiling Romo turned and shook play-caller Scott Linehan's hand. He dapped up running back Lance Dunbar and walked through the congestion of players to shake Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco's hand.

They exchanged pleasantries, and Romo headed to the locker room, slapping hands with a couple of fans as he walked into the bowels of the stadium.

"[Cowboys coach Jason] Garrett has done a good job of keeping us locked in about what we're supposed to do individually, and we focus on our job and not worry about what's going on around us and outside our locker room," Beasley said.

"We just keep grinding. It's next play, next minute. It's just live in the moment."

That's also a good way for Romo to deal with his new reality.