Tony Romo carrying Cowboys in different way

IRVING, Texas -- For a long time, Tony Romo had to carry the Dallas Cowboys on his back.

If he didn't make something happen, more often than not it didn't happen for the Cowboys. There were some devastating losses and poor plays that have filled the Romo narrative more than the memorable comebacks and highlights.

In the Cowboys' two wins this season, Romo has not had to carry the Cowboys, and it has nothing to do with his surgically repaired back being unable to withstand the weight.

It's a style of play.

They have leaned on the run far more with DeMarco Murray leading the NFL in rushing with 385 yards on 75 carries. As a team they have 95 carries for 470 yards. They did not reach that yardage total until their sixth game last season. They didn't have that many carries until their fifth game last season.

After they beat the Tennessee Titans 26-10 and Romo threw for only 176 yards, the quarterback offered up the formula:

“The Seahawks proved there is a certain way to go about that,” Romo said. “You just need to do a good job, move the chains, do the job on third down when you have the right down and distances then give your team the chance on the one or two drives that make a difference in the game. I think we did that.”

With the Cowboys' commitment to the running game, possessions are more limited. They have had 10 possessions in each of the first three games. In their wins against the Titans and Rams, Romo took a knee on the final possessions. In the first three games last season the Cowboys had 35 possessions.

A fewer number of possessions forces the offense to execute better.

Coach Jason Garrett called Romo a complementary player after the Titans' game. Maybe that's true, but he is also a situational quarterback.

In the Cowboys' two wins, Romo has been at his best in the critical moments.

After seeing a 16-0 halftime lead cut to six points after two Titans' drives in the third quarter, Romo responded with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Dez Bryant touchdown catch. On the drive Romo completed 6 of 9 passes for 65 yards. His biggest play came on third-and-15 when he bought time to his right and fired a pass to Bryant for 18 yards.

The Cowboys were never truly threatened after that drive.

Last week against the St. Louis Rams the Cowboys trailed 24-20 with 13:25 to play, digging themselves out of a 21-0 hole.

On an 11-play, 84-yard drive that took 7:15, Romo completed all four of his passes for 40 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams. The drive was aided by a 33-yard pass interference penalty, but the biggest play was a 16-yard scramble by Romo on third-and-13.

“Definitely in those two games you're aware of the situation and what the importance of those possessions were in each football game and you can kind of tell,” Romo said. “You know there's a possession or two that are going to dictate the football game and how it's going to come down to it, so you try and give yourself the best chance with the best stuff you've got and the little things you may do to help your football team.”

The Cowboys still have to climb on Romo's back, but maybe now just not for as long.