IRVING, Texas --Tony Romo slipped the statement into a long, general answer about his most recent notable critic, Deion Sanders.
"This team's going to win a Super Bowl at some point," he said to a throng of reporters Thursday.
It was sort of a muffled prediction, and its impact had the subtlety of a helmet-to-helmet hit.
It's the type of quote that will lead local and national newscasts tonight, and it probably will be referenced for the rest of Romo's career.
For Romo to say that, perhaps there was a deeper message. It's not his style to hand the media a story. He doesn't want to make waves. And he has never much cared what the media thinks about his job performance, so it's unlikely he felt the need to publicly defend himself after two more weeks' critique of his late-game troubles.
Can't help but think his timing was no accident. In three days the Cowboys will face the former three-time Super Bowl champions in Foxboro, where the Patriots have won 19 straight in the regular season. Few are giving them a realistic chance.
A win Sunday doesn't mean Dallas is clutching a Lombardi Trophy in February. But this is a statement game, no question. Win there and they can probably win anywhere, against anybody. Plus, there's a sizable difference between 3-2 and 2-3, even this early in the year.
That statement wasn't about "he" -- it was about "we."
Romo has always held a deep belief in the core of this football team since he became a starter. That's why as far back as the 2006 playoffs, the pain of his botched hold in Seattle moved him to tears. He thought they had a chance to make a run then.
The team is older now, with more experience and more scars, too. But his faith in himself -- despite two poor second halves this season -- and his team hasn't changed. I think he wants them to know that.
These types of games, against this level of competition, are the ones Romo wants most. What better time to express it than now?