ARLINGTON, Texas –It was only fitting that Tony Romo's record-breaking touchdown came with a little bit of the flair that the undrafted quarterback has become famous for over the years.
When Romo received the snap in the third quarter, he was quickly forced out of the pocket by the pass rush. As he rolled to his right he could not find any of his initial reads open. When he looked to the left, he saw a wide-open Dez Bryant and threw it across the field. Bryant caught the ball, made a few moves and got in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
The play, which took place with 11:30 left in the third quarter of Sunday night's game against the Eagles was Romo's 166th career touchdown. By reaching the mark, he surpassed Troy Aikman to become the Cowboys' all-time leader in touchdown passes.
Perhaps even more impressive than the feat itself is the fact that Romo was able to accomplish it in just over half the starts that it took Aikman to do it. Sunday's game was the 89th start of Romo's career. Aikman started 165 games in his career.
It is true that the NFL has become more of a passing league in the years since Aikman retired and that Emmitt Smith was a huge part of the Cowboys' offense while Aikman was the quarterback, resulting in fewer passes. However, there is no getting around how quickly Romo was able to pass the man considered by many to be the greatest quarterback in Cowboys' history. Romo also has a better completion percentage than Aikman had through the first 89 games of his career.
Romo is still second to Aikman in passing yards and completions, both by a significant margin.
Romo, standing alone as all-time leader in touchdown passes, attempted to downplay the accomplishment after the game.
"Well, I think it's about winning games," Romo said. "Troy (Aikman), obviously, being a guy if you're in any discussion with him in anything, you're doing something right. Obviously, that feels very rewarding."
After the game, owner Jerry Jones took a moment to reflect on the career Romo has had in Dallas.
"I can still picture him when he first got on the Cowboys and the defensive coaches would just pull their hair out in frustration because they couldn't stop him," Jones said. "Then they would say 'Well, he's got to play right … because that won't win in the NFL.' So it was nice to see him have the night he did and break the record."
Romo has had a rollercoaster of a season. There have been brutally painful losses. He has had a four-interception game and a five-interception game this year. But on Sunday night, Romo not only made his mark in Cowboys' history, he also played a nearly flawless game.
Romo completed 22-of-27 passes against the Eagles for 303 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was an astonishing 150.5. He played a perfect second half, going 10-for-10 with 169 yards and three touchdowns.
Romo talked about his second-half success, which had been a theme all season.
"Early in the game, you don't necessarily always know exactly what they are playing that day," Romo said. "Once I get a bead on it, usually I can lick in one and be pretty good."
Ultimately, Romo will likely be judged based on his postseason success, but at only 32 years of age, he is well on his way to become statistically the greatest Cowboys quarterback of all time.