Romo hang­ing on in roller-coaster sea­son

Cow­boys are on a 3-1 up­turn as they pre­pare to take on 75 Ben­gals.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - By schuyler Dixon

IRV­ING — Tony Romo threw 13 in­ter­cep­tions in the first seven games and has just two since. He was booed lustily in two mis­take-filled home losses, then broke Troy Aikman’s fran­chise record for touch­downs in the most ef­fi­cient out­ing of his ca­reer.

The Dal­las quar­ter­back has used phrases such as “ex­haust­ing my brain” while the Cow­boys have lived on the edge of the play­off chase, and their pen­chant for fall­ing be­hind looked like it might wear out his right arm.

Romo won’t call this up-and-down grind tougher than any other in six years of try­ing to get the Cow­boys even re­motely close to a Su­per Bowl for the first time since the 1995 sea­son. It sure looks like it, though — even sounds like it.

“I con­stantly an­a­lyze what our team needs or what can help our foot­ball team, what we may need to change to help what or who we are and what this team needs to do to get bet­ter,” said Romo, who is a year away from the end of his con­tract and now the mar­ried fa­ther of an 8-month old boy. “That’s al­ways in my brain. How can I do it? How can I help oth­ers? You think about it con­stantly.”

Be­cause of the games and throws that got away, the Cow­boys (6-6) may not sur­vive an­other loss as they be­gin the fi­nal quar­ter of the sea­son Sun­day at Cincin­nati (7-5). Dal­las hasn’t reached the post­sea­son since 2009, when Romo had his only play­off vic­tory and just the sec­ond for the Cow­boys since their last Su­per Bowl win.

If the Cow­boys are go­ing any­where, Romo will prob­a­bly have to be the one lead­ing them.

One of his clas­sic scram­bles and com­ple­tions was the most im­por­tant play in a win over Philadel­phia that started the cur­rent 3-1 stretch. The in­jury-de­pleted Dal­las de­fense couldn’t stop the Ea­gles in the re­match, but Romo kept pace un­til a big de­fen­sive touch­down gave the Cow- boys a cush­ion.

One of Romo’s two in­ter­cep­tions in the past five games helped Washington take a 28-3 half­time lead on Thanks­giv­ing, but he came back with three sec­ond-half touch­downs and had the Cow­boys within seven when a de­fen­sive let­down put the Red­skins back in con­trol.

In the sec­ond halves of his past two games, Romo has thrown for 513 yards and six touch­downs with one in­ter­cep­tion, and he now has 168 ca­reer TDs, three more than Aikman, a three-time Su­per Bowl win­ner.

“I think more than any­thing else, he’s tak­ing care of the ball and still mak­ing plays,” Dal­las coach Ja­son Gar­rett said. “When Tony’s play­ing his best, he’s able to do that.”

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