IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys traded for Matt Cassel days after Tony Romo broke his left collarbone the first time this season. They promoted Cassel to fill-in starter four weeks into Romo's time on the injured reserve-designated to return list.
On Thanksgiving Day, Cassel was back in the lineup for an injured Romo once again – this time in the middle of a game. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 93 yards and a late touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' 33-14 loss to the Panthers.
The Cowboys have announced Romo will miss the rest of the 2015 season after fracturing his left collarbone in the third quarter against Carolina. That means Cassel is back in next-man-up mode.
"That's part of what you embrace when you become a quarterback. You have to step in and try to fulfill that role," Cassel said in the locker room after the Cowboys' loss. "Hopefully the guys rally around you. You have to move forward. I have confidence in myself and I have confidence in this team. We have to start getting back to work."
In four starts for Romo earlier this season, Cassel completed 74 of 120 passes for 809 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for a 75.3 rating. The Cowboys lost all four games, part of a seven-game losing streak without their franchise quarterback.
At 3-8, the team remains two games behind the Redskins (5-6) and Giants (5-6) in the NFC East with five games left.
Speaking last Friday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he believes Cassel's additional time in the offense will benefit him more the second time filling in for Romo.
"I thought Matt, had he had the benefit of the offseason and had he had the benefit of training camp, he'd be the first to tell you and everybody else – coach (Jason) Garrett, everybody – that we would have had more success," Jones said. "Now he's gotten the benefit of being here all this time and playing in the games and he will be able to do more. We'll be able to do more with our offense.
"We were very fortunate that he was available to us when Tony went down."