IRVING, Texas – Fresh off their NFC East-clinching win against Indianapolis, the Cowboys placed six players into the 2015 Pro Bowl on Tuesday evening.
Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin were all named to the Pro Bowl – essentially the NFL's all-star game – for their roles in securing the Cowboys' first playoff berth since 2009.
Six is the franchise's highest number of Pro Bowl selections since 2010, when the Cowboys also sent six players to the game. That last playoff team, which won the division in 2009, had nine players selected.
Two of the six selections, Frederick and Martin, are first-time visitors – with Martin becoming just the eighth Cowboys rookie to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl. Selected No. 16 overall in May, Martin is the first rookie offensive linemen the Cowboys have ever sent to the Pro Bowl.
The last two Dallas rookies to earn that honor were Nick Folk in 2007 and Emmitt Smith in 1990.
Frederick earned the distinction in just his second season in the league – although he is actually four months younger than Martin.
"I think it's a tremendous honor to even be put in that company. It's certainly unexpected," Frederick said. "It's really a special feeling and fun to see the rest of the guys announced as well."
The duo account for both of the Cowboys' past two first round picks, and have been pivotal, along with fellow first-round pick Tyron Smith – now a two-time Pro Bowler – in turning the Cowboys' rushing game into one of the league's best.
The combination of Smith, Frederick and Martin is the first trio of Cowboys offensive linemen to make the Pro Bowl since 2008.
Behind that trio, DeMarco Murray made himself a shoe-in for his second-straight Pro Bowl. The four-year veteran has been the league's leading rusher since Week 2, and he has a chance to set the Cowboys' single-season rushing record Sunday against Washington.
Through 15 games, Murray has carried the ball 373 times for 1,745 yards and 12 touchdowns – all career highs by a significant margin.
His partners on the Dallas offense are no less surprising – nor less deserving. Dez Bryant earned his second-straight Pro Bowl selection on the tail end of what is arguably his best season to date.
With one game to play, Bryant's 14 receiving touchdowns leads the NFL, and he has a chance to tie or break Terrell Owens' single-season franchise record of 15. Bryant has now recorded 1,200-plus receiving yards in each of the past three seasons, and he'll have a chance at his second 1,300-yard season this weekend.
Romo, who is concluding arguably the best season of his career, earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection – and his first since that 2009 season. This gives him the second-most Pro Bowl trips for a quarterback in franchise history, behind Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman – each with six.
Romo has never been to the Pro Bowl in a season when the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs, as his other three Pro Bowl years were 2006, 2007 and 2009.
It seemed unlikely Romo would be able to beat out stiff quarterback competition through the first half of the season, especially when he missed a game in November with two broken bones in his back.
Since returning from that injury, however, he has been one of the best signal-callers in the league. Romo has completed 74.5 percent of his passes for 1,408 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last six games.
In his division-clinching effort, Romo completed 18-of-20 passes against the Colts for 214 yards and four touchdowns – the best quarterback rating of any of his 122 starts. It won't go down as his most explosive season statistically, but Romo currently leads the NFL in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating.