EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It's too early for Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones to discuss the Super Bowl as it pertains to this year's team – but not necessarily the big picture.
Huddled in a happy postgame locker room at MetLife Stadium, Jones was not afraid to talk about the future – particularly as it pertains to his signal-caller. After watching Tony Romo lead the Cowboys down the field for a 31-28 win in the final minute against the Giants, Jones had some pointed words regarding his star-crossed franchise quarterback.
"Let me just say it this way – it'll be the most negative thing about my ownership, in my mind, if Tony has a career here and we don't win a Super Bowl with him," he said. "That will be the most negative thing – to have had his talent come through this organization and we not get a Super Bowl."
It's a pertinent comment for a variety of reasons. Romo is currently enjoying one of the most successful seasons of his decorated career – and easily one of his most efficient. He is completing 69 percent of his passes for an average of 250 yards per game this season. Better yet, his averaging quarterback rating is a whopping 111.4.
As a result, the Cowboys are in the midst of one of the most successful seasons of Romo's career, along with their 11-5 campaign in 2009 and their 13-3 2007 season – Romo's first as the full-time starter. In reflecting on the current success, Jones lingered on that 2007 effort, when the Cowboys tied the franchise record for wins but failed to win a playoff game.
"I thought we had a great team when the Giants came up and came from the back side as the wildcard and came down and beat us with home field advantage through the playoffs," he said. "I thought we had an outstanding team there, Tony of course was our quarterback, and we had higher-noted defensive players at that time."
There are still five games left to play, but Jones said the Cowboys' grittiness this season – highlighted by this latest effort – is reminding him of past teams that have made playoff appearances, including that 2007 team.
"I thought that team was one of the best teams we've had, but I'll put this team – I'll start talking about them in that category," he said. "Personnel-wise as well as, we won some games that year that were really games that had to show character, and this one shows character."
Romo's own character plays a role in that, too. The Cowboys missed an opportunity at a playoff berth in 2013, at least partially because Romo missed the season finale following back surgery. Concerns about that injury followed Romo into the 2014 season, and they only intensified when he broke two transverse processes in his back last month.
It hasn't seemed to matter to this point, as Romo has rebounded from that setback to bring Dallas to the cusp of its first winning record in five years.
"His year, at this juncture, is the best I've seen him play. I thought before he got hurt last year he was having a great year, as well," Jones said.
That brings the big picture back into the focus. Having surrounded the 34-year-old Romo with Pro Bowl weapons and a talented offensive line, the Cowboys are competing at a level few thought possible just a few months ago.
All the more reason, Jones said, to make sure the Cowboys capitalize.
"When you've got a quarterback like that, you want to put together enough around him so you can compete for a Super Bowl," he said. "If we don't do that while he's active, it'll be the biggest disappointment."