Rising To The Occasion

points, only beating the Detroit Lions 28-27 Sunday at Ford Field becomes this perceived glitch on the radar screen. Hey, do you realize heading into the Monday night game only five other teams won on the road Week 14 in the NFL? It's just not easy.

"If anyone thinks you're going to go through a season and win by 10, 20 points every time, you're fooling yourself," Romo said after the Cowboys captured their second one-point victory over the season.

"You got to find a way to win at the end of the game, and if you do, that's the sign of a great team."

So there will be those pointing out Romo's last-drive fumble getting kicked back to guard Kyle Kosier as the reason for Sunday's last-minute comeback. Oh yeah. Well, that fumble recovery didn't have anything to do with converting fourth-and-6 from the Cowboys' 40 on the very next play.

The Cowboys still had to drive 60 more yards in the final 57 seconds without the benefit of a timeout to score that winning touchdown with 18 seconds to spare. Romo still had to throw the 16-yard touchdown pass to Witten on as beautifully an executed play as you'll ever see.

Then there will be others pointing on the improbability of Detroit kicker Jason Hanson missing the 35-yard field goal which would have given the Lions a 30-21 lead with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter as yet another lucky bounce for the Cowboys. Granted, but that missed field goal had nothing to do with the Cowboys forcing the Lions to punt for only the third time in the game with 2:21 left, no timeouts left and trailing 27-21. Had the Lions made the play on third-and-9, the Cowboys were beaten.

But no, the defense stepped up.

The Cowboys made the play . . . and play after play after play in that game to erase that 13-point second-half deficit, their largest of the season in a game they have won, 28-27.

"We've been able to do that consistently," Witten said of coming up with clutch plays in pressure situations. "It's special."

Very, if you compare this season to last.

Remember Romo being tackled at the 2, scrambling for the end zone as time expired in that 39-31 loss to Detroit?

Remember how they turned a winning field-goal attempt at Washington into Washington's game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock after allowing the kick to be blocked, returned and then getting nailed with a face-mask penalty to make the attempt even possible?

Remember Drew Bledsoe's fourth-quarter throw into the end zone for the tie in Philadelphia getting picked off and returned 102 yards the other way for the knockout touchdown?

Need I even ask about the aborted potential game-winning field-goal attempt in the playoffs against the Seahawks?

See what I mean?

In those situations the Cowboys crumbled like stale crackers.

But this year, they seem to thrive in those back-to-the-wall, nail-biting pinches. Ask the Lions. Ask the Bills. Sure, the Cowboys might have been fortunate to recover that onside kick, but remember, they still had to drive into position for Nick Folk's game-winning 53-yard field goal redo as time expired for the win. Ask the Packers, not only thwarting their fourth-quarter attempt to erase a three-point lead, but driving thereafter for the game-clinching touchdown with the pressure mounting.

No different than recovering in Detroit, causing Phillips to say of the win, "Shows the character and heart of this team."

And later claiming the victory was "an outstanding game because we showed our character again."

But hey, you, you might subscribe to that charmed existence thing.

Me, I'm a closing-the-deal kind of guy.

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