Can't Let Mistakes Keep You Down

there? To sometimes play to live for another play? To think about minimizing disaster every now and then?

Or you Jason Garrett, did you have to remind your quarterback that he doesn't always have to be a hero?

Garrett would say you have to be careful to arrive at a healthy balance with a quarterback like Romo, never wanting to handcuff his creativity and ability to makes plays, but at the same time reminding him to play within himself and don't make bad decisions.

"You've got to allow him to do that, but at the same time understand, you've got to take care of the football," Garrett said.

As for Romo, he insists, "I can forget" those bad plays, and he has this uncanny ability to console himself knowing, "Sometimes stuff won't go your way.

"Sometimes you are going to throw five picks."

Ha, good one. At least he grinned, knowing he had one upped me.

Because just when you were about to throw in the towel on Romo dealing with the Eagles, he matured in front of your very eyes just a little bit more, immediately leading the Cowboys on a touchdown drive and quite possibly the most important point-scoring drive of the game when he needed only 33 seconds at the end of the half to move the ball 45 yards, with only one timeout, for Nick Folk's 51-yard field goal, narrowing that first-half damage to just a 30-24 deficit.

Then in the second half, Romo was never better, leading the Cowboys to scores on three of their five possessions to beat the Eagles by four.

When the smoke cleared, Romo's final line read like this: 21 of 30 for 312 yards, giving him 12 of those precious 300-yard passing performances, now just one short of Troy Aikman's franchise record of 13 he compiled over 12 seasons. Romo now can tie the mark in 29 starts.

The line of maturation continues like this: no sacks, the one interception and three touchdown passes, including the 72-yard honey of a throw to Terrell Owens for his longest career completion and T.O.'s longest reception with the Cowboys; the four-yard bullet to T.O. on the slant when the Eagles thought they could cover him that close to the goal line with burly safety Brian Dawkins when the Cowboys lined up with two tight ends and one wide receiver; and then that incredible rainbow over the head of Barber on the wheel route from 17 yards.

Add it all up, and the quarterback who was about to get thrown under the bus finished with a rather remarkable 123.2 QB rating, the 17th QB rating of more than 100 in 28 career regular-season starts.

You kidding me? That's gold.

And most of all, how about how in the second half Romo adjusted his game, from throwing deep against those blitzing Eagles when they were leaving his receivers in man coverage, to nibbling underneath when they dropped those safeties deep and then took advantage of how much attention the Eagles were paying Terrell Owens by throwing those endless seam routes to Jason Witten.

"You don't want negative plays," Garrett rationalized, "but at the same time you want him to play aggressive and free.

"I thought he played a heckuva game."

For as Owens said, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish."

And Romo - and the Cowboys - finished marvelously.

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