ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo gave both his critics and defenders plenty of fodder Sunday, though the latter won out in a come-from-behind victory led by the Cowboys' quarterback.
Romo answered for a fourth-quarter interception with 4:35 remaining in the game by orchestrating a two-minute, 90-yard touchdown drive that gave the Cowboys a four-point lead with 35 seconds remaining.
"I know as a quarterback, you love to be in those situations," Romo said. "We didn't win last week, but I relish being out there in those situations to be able to go and help our football team win. When you go do that, it's a great feeling and it just reiterated everything you put into it."
Romo was on the other side of a late drive in that loss he's referring to from last week, when Matthew Stafford drove the Lions 80 yards in 50 seconds in the last minute of the game. It seemed early on Romo might be in line for another devastating loss after he threw a late pick "in typical Romo fashion" in the fourth quarter, intended for Terrance Williams.
Head coach Jason Garrett didn't have much of a problem with the decision.
"When it's one-on-one, you have to cut the ball loose," Garrett said. "You have to count on the receiver winning and the receiver making the play for you and certainly not a lot of bad things happening."
Not a lot of bad things happened on the final drive of the game, when Romo got his chance at redemption and came through with a nine-play drive that ended in a touchdown to Dwayne Harris.
Despite the stigma of Romo's late game collapses or failures, which grows after interceptions like the one earlier this year against the Broncos, the Cowboys quarterback has also delivered multiple times toward the end of games throughout his career.
Romo, who led the league with five fourth-quarter comebacks last year, was responsible for all 90 yards of Sunday's game-winning drive. The win extended Romo's franchise lead to 19 career fourth-quarter or overtime come-from-behind victories.
"I know a lot of people want to talk about some of these plays or games where things didn't work out," Garrett said. "But if you really look at his body of work and you look at it objectively, he's done this kind of stuff a lot. He's done it a lot throughout his career."
Those opportunities had eluded Romo and the Cowboys recently, having gone just 1-3 this year in games decided by a touchdown or less before Sunday. Despite the recent failures, it wasn't relief Romo felt when he completed the winning pass to Harris and jumped into the arms of Jason Witten.
He believed the Cowboys would win Sunday if given a last opportunity. He said the feeling was pure joy.
"Relief is never a term I would use," Romo said. "It's a joy. You feel like you won the football game and you feel like you gave yourself a chance to win at that point. More than anything, it's a little more competitive than that, if that makes sense. I just picture a Michael Jordan over Xavier McDaniel kind of look, where he's just kind of aggressive being, 'Yes!' That's the feeling you have."
The winning drive began with an 11-yard pass to Witten, who eclipsed the 100-yard mark and found the end zone in the game. The next pass was the first of two completions to Dwayne Harris, who hadn't had a catch in the game prior.
"We just had to do what we do," Harris said. "We practice on this every day, we practice on two-minute every day. When we get out there, it just comes natural to us."
Romo followed the two-minute warning by completing an 18-yard pass to Cole Beasley, but a drop by Williams stalled the momentum. Dez Bryant answered, however, by redeeming himself on a 34-yard completion, running a similar route to the one he ran earlier in the game on a drop.
Another completion to Beasley, another completion to Witten and an incomplete pass preceded the eventual 7-yard touchdown to Harris, who reached out and crossed the goal line on a short slant down the middle of the field. [embedded_ad]
"It was just a simple little under route, Tony came out of the pocket, seen me, it was a little 5-yard toss, simple pitch and catch," Harris said. "After that, it was just get in the end zone."
The route might have been simple, but it was the grandest of plays for a team that had failed to close out tight games previously. Romo said he didn't have any doubts about the outcome, even after his fourth-quarter pick, and his head coach applauded Romo for recognizing what the Vikings were trying to accomplish at the end.
"He got the ball out of his hand, and everybody around him made positive plays," Garrett said. "He made a heck of a play for the touchdown at the end. It was a great drive and as important of a drive as we've had all year long."