NASHVILLE – Forgive Tony Romo if he's not exactly used to winning this way.
When DeMarco Murray rushed for 1,106 yards last year, it was the first time since Romo became a starting quarterback that he had a 1,000-yard rusher lining up behind.
But that changed last season and so far through two games, it appears the Cowboys are starting to lean more on a running game. Who knows if that'll remain constant all year, but it was the reason the Cowboys beat Tennessee on Sunday at LP Field.
The Cowboys ran over the Titans, literally. Rushing for 220 yards, the most by this team since 227 against Baltimore in 2012, the Cowboys were able to control the line of scrimmage with DeMarco Murray leading the way. Murray ran for 167 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.8 yards a carry.
What it did was take the pressure off of Tony Romo, who only threw 29 passes Sunday, a drop-off from the 37 attempts last week against the 49ers. However, the biggest change was the interception difference as Romo didn't have a pick this week, after a three-interception performance against San Francisco.
After the game, Romo said he has no problems with more of the game-manager role that had him handing off 43 times, including 29 to Murray for a career-high.
"There will be games where I've got to play at a high level for us to win and there will be games where we'll have the opportunity to do what we did and run the ball and do things," Romo said. "You've got a back like DeMarco Murray and a line that can pound in the running game, it gives you a chance."
Romo cited the Seahawks' run-first mentality that led to last year's Super Bowl title as a proven example of a team that can win this way.
"The biggest thing for us to move the chains," Romo said. "You extend drives and give yourself a chance to make the big plays. We did that really today."
More than specific games in which Romo will be asked to take over, there are always points in each game where that happens as well. Sunday, the Cowboys found themselves without the momentum after the Titans trimmed a 16-0 halftime lead to 16-10 midway through the third quarter.
But Romo went to work, engineering a 12-play, 80-yard drive that included three third-down conversions, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.
"That was a good drive," Romo said. "At that point in the game, it was a drive you feel like it makes the difference to go win the game. We made the plays to go score."
Of the 12 plays, Romo threw nine passes on that drive, including the final six.
"I thought Tony did a nice job for us," Garrett said. "We blended the run and pass really well. We want to be able to play downhill football and move the chains, control the line of scrimmage. I think we were able to do that and the entire offense did a nice job." [embedded_ad]
"That was the drive you feel can make the difference and make it very difficult for a team,'' said Romo, who completed six-of-nine passes for 65 yards in the drive. "We did some good things on that drive that allowed us to score. We made some good plays.''
Tennessee came right back and began to move the ball again. But linebacker Rolando McClain shut the door with a spectacular interception.
The Cowboys avoided a treacherous 0-2 start with a maligned defense making plays at key moments, a commitment to the run game that is too often questioned and a quarterback who was a complementary figure on the day.
"Honestly, 53 complementary players is ideal,'' Romo said. "That's what you want on your football team. You want to be able to rely on each other and consistently as situations come up be able to lean on each other.
"There will be games where I've got to play at a high level for us to win and there will be games where we'll have the opportunity to do what we did and run the ball and do things. You've got a back like DeMarco Murray and a line that can pound in the running game, it gives you a chance.
"I like the way our team is heading.''