MIAMI – On Saturday night, not long after the Cowboys arrived here in South Florida for their matchup against the Dolphins, Tony Romo did something a little out of the ordinary the night before a game.
Then again, what about this season has been ordinary?
But in a team meeting, Romo stood up and told his teammates how much he appreciated them. How much he appreciated their fight through this time when he was out of action. While he acknowledged the fact that teams are judged by wins and losses, Romo thanked them for never quitting on this season.
"I told the guys yesterday, that it was really inspirational watching them. Even though we didn't win over the last seven weeks, our football team never let up," Romo said. "The tough part is when that doesn't produce results because then it gets tougher each time. The fact that they have committed to this and just getting better, and then let the results happen later, has just been a great thing to see."
As Dez Bryant put it, "He told us how much he needed us."
And that's the irony for me. Through these last two months, we've all seen just how much the team has missed Romo. Yet, the quarterback makes it a point to remind them all how much he needs them as well.
However you slice it, they needed each other. And that was rather evident in their on-field reunion Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. Romo was back in action, and it was almost like this team just picked up right where things left off in Week 2 at Philadelphia.
We are 10 games into the season now and anytime you see a stat that suggests a team is 3-0 when this happens, and 0-7 when it doesn't, it sounds rather important. But "important" doesn't do it justice when it comes to Romo being on the field.
Everything is better, from the guys he affects directly to the guys on the other side of the ball.
Did you think the defensive line was just a lot better this week just because? Or maybe the fact that Romo and the offense maintained the ball for nearly 39 minutes of the clock. It's a lot easier to get after the quarterback when you're on the field for a third of the game.
Even the Cowboys' defensive touchdown, which was one of the best play Rolando McClain has made since joining the team, was a byproduct of Romo and the offense moving the ball near midfield and pinning Miami back.
Across the board, everyone seemed to elevate his game, and that can't be a coincidence. Guys like Terrance Williams and Gavin Escobar played at a higher level. Of course, Dez Bryant had his moments, and the running game got stronger as the game went on.
Personally, the most impressive thing that happened on Sunday – other than the Cowboys finally just getting that elusive "W" – was how different things looked despite Romo not being himself.
Let's face it, he made a huge difference out there, but he wasn't as sharp as we've seen before and that was to be expected. We knew there was a chance he could be rusty, and he was. Now, the downpour that greeted him on his first drive didn't help, and neither did the poor field position inside the 10 to start off.
After two months off, this guy returns and his first pass is … left-handed? Of course it is in this crazy 2015 season.
But it somewhat reminded me of the Michael Jordan game when he had the flu in the playoffs. The guy scores 50 when he's barely able to run. It just shows you how special of a player he is.
OK, stop. I'm not comparing Jordan to Romo – other than with this team, Romo is their Jordan.
When you can step back in, play an average game, and make that much of a difference? That's a special player, and that's exactly what Romo is and always has been.
There's still a long, long way to go in this season. The good thing for the Cowboys is that they're only two games out of first and one game back from the other two teams. So there's still a lot of football to play. And with their leader back, there's a chance for some hope.
And with that, between Romo and his teammates, it doesn't really matter who needs each other more.