MIAMI** – Tony Romo finally took a hit – and another, and another.
The Cowboys' quarterback got sacked three times and hit a fourth time but bounced back up after every hit. Those who wanted to see how Romo would react to contact got all they could have asked for.
"I think what you find is as long as you get back up, you feel good about it," Romo said.
Romo said he'd prefer not to think about how he felt after the first hit and the subsequent ones. But that's a natural occurrence for someone coming off that kind of a surgery.
Last week against the Ravens, Romo stayed on his feet as he went 4-for-5 with a touchdown. He was on the ground a lot more Saturday in Miami, taking his first big hits since of the year, but he seemed to get out of it unscathed.
"I took some hits and that was good, just in regards to getting back up and keep playing," Romo said. "That part of it was positive, in general. We can avoid it, but it was good to kind of get back up and keep going."
It came as somewhat of a surprise to see Romo back on the field drive after drive, considering the punishment he was taking. Romo's been limited and held out of practices every so often throughout training camp, and this, by far, was the most physical contact he's had to deal with.
But after every drive in the first half, including a couple that ended in sacks, Romo would return to the field. He played all five drives of the first half, going 10-for-18 for 87 yards, playing even further into the game than Dez Bryant, who said his quarterback had to argue his way onto the field.
"Tony, he's a true competitor, for real, man," Bryant said. "That's what a lot of people don't know. He wants it. He wants to be in. He fought to stay in on the drive that I came out. I came out a drive, I was hot and pissed. We only had three (points) up there. I understood, preseason, but somehow, someway, they let him go in. That's what I'm talking about.
"It's just the fight, the dog and the hunger. When he does it, it makes everybody else want to do it. That's how a team becomes explosive."
Romo remembers the convincing it took to get back on the field a little differently.
"Nah, it was good," he said. "Coach (Jason Garrett) came by and said, 'You good with one more?' I said, 'Yeah.' It wasn't too hard. You just do what the coaches tell you."
Garrett said he thought it was a positive experience to see Romo take the contact, even if he preferred it didn't happen quite so often. The plan was for Romo to play as little as 12 and as many as 20 or so plays depending how the drives went.
The Cowboys scored only six first-half points, so Romo kept going back out for more. Romo and the first-team offense ended up running 34 plays before the first half.
"I think in a funny kind of way that was good for him to be able to feel that contact and know that it's like the contact he's been feeling his whole life playing as an NFL quarterback," Garrett said. "I thought, for the most part, you want to protect better than that. I felt like they were around him a little bit too much for a couple different reasons. We'll try to look at the tape and figure out what that is." [embedded_ad]
Regardless of the reason for the pressure, seeing Romo get back up like normal is a step in the right direction during an otherwise atypical preseason for the starting quarterback.
"He had to move around in the pocket," Garrett said. "He did get hit a couple times, and that's what happens in a real life game. I thought he handled that well."