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Romo’s 2011 Heroics vs. 49ers Was Painful Loss For Harbaugh
IRVING, Texas - The Cowboys’ Week 2 win over the 49ers back in 2011 is remembered for a lot of things.
While Dan Bailey’s up-and-down day that ended heroically or Jesse Holley coming out of nowhere to shine rank high on the list, nothing can overshadow Tony Romo’s resilience to come back from a punctured lung and cracked ribs to lead the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime win.
At least that’s how 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh sees it as he recalls that game, which was played during his first season as head coach in San Francisco.
“A deep bruise – that took a while for that to go away,” Harbaugh said Wednesday in a conference call with Dallas-Fort Worth media. “But I have great respect for Tony Romo, what he’s accomplished and the body of his work for his career. What he did on that day, seeing him leave the game and come back and engineering a fourth-quarter comeback. It was most impressive.”
Romo took a vicious hit to the midsection early in the first half and eventually left the field seemingly for the rest of the game. But he came back in the third quarter, wearing a protective jacket for his ribs, to rally the Cowboys from 10 down to force overtime. And in the extra session, he checked off a run play to hit Holley in the open field for a 77-yard gain that led to Bailey’s game-winning field goal.
“That was really the first sign for all of us how tough he really was,” tight end Jason Witten said of Romo. “We thought he might be out for the game, maybe a few games. But he comes back in there. It was surreal. It was like he was coming out of the bullpen. It was an unbelievable performance by Tony.”
Head coach Jason Garrett obviously has fond memories of the game, but says he didn’t learn anything new from his quarterback that day.
“No, I think it was just further manifestation of what I already knew about him and what I know about him,” Garrett said. “He loves to play. He’s physically tough, mentally tough. He’s something else. His leadership really showed up that day. Like it has many other times. It was something our entire team responded to. It was really something else. For him to tap me on the shoulder (and say), ‘I’m going back in.’ Before I know it he was beyond the numbers and in the huddle and going. Not only did he go in, he played awfully well down the stretch in a really important game on the road.”
Garrett might not have learned anything new about Romo, but the opposing coach certainly did.
“I knew he was great. I’ve always thought that of Tony Romo,” Harbaugh admitted. “But he climbed another rung of my ladder of esteem. And I didn’t think he had any more rungs to go after what I’ve seen. But he definitely gained another one that day.”