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Romo and Gramatica make Parcells smile

So what's the media talking about this fine Monday morning, one day after the Cowboys vaulted to the top of the NFC East?

Taking a spin around the news it looks like a couple of stories are dominating the conventional wisdom. The first is Tony Romo and the way he gutted out a win on Sunday.

BTB regular AmosM pointed me to this Don Banks article, which expresses more eloquently what I thought about Romo's play than I did in my own post.

In his first five NFL starts, Romo mostly wowed us and the rest of the league. But the Cowboys didn't necessarily need the wow factor against the Giants. They just needed the win. Any way, anyhow. Romo has been better; but he has never come up bigger, leading Dallas to 10 points in its two final drives, including the five-snap, 40-yard, 65-second march that produced Martin Gramatica's game-winning 46-yard field with one second remaining...

Those are exactly my thoughts, and close to my words from my post late last night. Romo didn't have his best numbers but when it mattered, he won. Nobody puts up gaudy numbers every single week, and we needed to see Romo play a game and win it when things weren't as easy as his previous starts. We got that on Sunday.

It's not like Romo played badly, but he's set his own bar so high, that a modest week by him is considered struggling.

The stat sheet says Romo finished a respectable 20 of 34 for 257 passing yards. But he didn't throw a touchdown pass and -- for the first time since inheriting the starting job -- hung up a two-interception game. His 58.1 passer rating was worlds below his 110.8 season rating entering the game and almost 30 points lower than his previous nadir (86.6 against Carolina in his first start).

Jason Witten on Romo:
"That's what we needed from him,'' Witten said. "Tony has a lot of poise. He didn't play great, but he was able to stick in there in the last two drives and make something happen. That's when he really comes alive. What makes him a good quarterback is he's able to make those plays in tough situations. The big thing is he really believes he can make that throw.''

Romo himself says the Giants were able to do some things to get him off his game, and he was scrambling back there a good part of the day.
"But they did some good things (against me). I had to throw the ball away a bunch of times, more than any game so far. I moved around more today than I have so far, because they were running more twists up front.''

Mac Engel discussed the same theme. The offense wasn't clicking on all cylinders for most of the game, but in the 4th quarter, where legends are made, Romo made plays.

His day began to change when he led the Cowboys on a 12-play, 66-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that gave the team a 20-13 lead.

In that drive, he completed five of six passes for 49 yards, ran once for 10 yards and was 3-for-3 on third downs. He completed passes to three receivers.

Clutch. He is the guy who sinks the 8-ball and takes the money.

"We made mistakes today. I know I did," Romo said. "You just have to have a chance to do something at the end of the game to help win the game. ... As long as we've got time on the clock, I feel like we have a chance."

Terry Glenn agrees:
"Tony is really coming into his own," receiver Terry Glenn said. "This game showed me what he's about for years to come."

And that is?

"Greatness," Glenn said. "Coming down to the wire, having that composure and poise in the huddle, he really did it for us. He made that throw to [Jason] Witten, and it did it for us."


Winning ugly is a step every QB must take. Romo's game wasn't ugly, but it wasn't a DaVinci or a Rembrandt like he was painting before. But he still won, and he did it in the 4th quarter on the road and in the division. Romo took a big step forward in his maturation level yesterday.

Gil LeBreton picked up on the same theme I did about Parcells being Vegas-lucky right now.

As linebacker Bradie James put it, "Bill is looking like a genius right now.

"Between Romo and Gramatica, everything he's doing seems to be right."


Parcells is living right, whether he's a genius or is getting lucky, he's got the golden touch right now.
After Sunday, betting on Vegas Bill looms as increasingly good advice.

By the way, Gramatica's new Cowboys jersey bears the number 7.


Craps baby, everyone wins!

Colishaw mentions a play that made my heart stop for a full three seconds. Late in the 4th quarter, we were driving the ball and Romo slung a quick out to Patrick Crayton. Gibril Wilson flashed into the picture and I knew that ball was going the other way for 7. The whole game flashed before my eyes. But Wilson only tipped the ball and Crayton made a big catch. Romo says he saw it all happening:

Romo said he saw Wilson at the last second and threw the ball a little farther to the right than he initially planned.

OK, maybe he is that good. But maybe he's a little lucky, too.


Yeah, that was the difference between losing and winning. I don't know either if he was lucky or good on that play, but he did get away with it.

Last word on Romo playing tough when it mattered:

Eli Manning outplayed Romo - that had something to do with the duress that Romo was under and the pressure that was nowhere to be seen on Manning - but Romo was at his best in the fourth quarter.

That's why the Cowboys own a two-game advantage on the Giants and are in real position to secure a playoff home game, possibly even a bye.

"He didn't have his best day," coach Bill Parcells said of his quarterback. "But he got us down the field when it counted. That's all I'm going to say about him right now."

Let's give some love to the other big story; the diminutive one with the big leg.

"Gramatica made me look good," Parcells said with a smile. "For a first game back in the league, you can't get more pressure than that for the division lead."

Gramatica's just happy to be here:
"I've got to thank the Cowboys for giving me a second chance," said Gramatica, once a top kicker who had just one field goal in three games since 2004.

"It's been a rough couple of years for me," the journeyman said, "being out all last year and then not making any teams this year."

Let's give Clarence Hill the final words.

Gramatica's dramatic kick not only put a smile Parcells' face, but it touched off a wild celebration on the Cowboys sideline and sent the largely partisan crowd of 78,666 at Giants Stadium to the exits - probably for the season.

This is what winning looks like: