He winged it. And at times, yes, quarterback Tony Romo fluttered it.
But he dodged trouble, shrugged away a would-be costly interception, and once even juked a St. Louis Rams linebacker, the way the old Romo used to do.
He did more than enough.
And that’s the way it’s going to have to be — for now — for the new Tony Romo.
The post-surgical Tony Romo. The “complementary” Tony Romo.
Tony Romo, version 2.0.
No longer, for now, will Romo have to feel the entire weight of the Dallas Cowboys on his 34-year-old shoulders. No longer, should the Cowboys again fall behind by three touchdowns, will Romo have to think that he has to rescue the team all by himself.
It’s a new season. There’s a brash new plan. And the Cowboys are sticking to it, they insisted, following Sunday’s come-from-behind 34-31 victory over the Rams.
Even with St. Louis stacking six, seven, even eight defenders at the line of scrimmage, Romo kept handing the football Sunday to running back DeMarco Murray.
“We are who we are,” said Romo, who threw only 23 passes.
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“We’re committed to running the football,” tight end Jason Witten explained. “Everybody’s waiting for that to break, and it’s not. There’s a complete commitment to running the football, and we’ll continue to run the football.
“It’s a little different than what we’ve been in the past.”
A little different? Other than last December’s loss in Chicago, played in a minus-9 wind chill, Romo has thrown as few as 23 passes in a complete game only three times in his nine seasons as a starter.
The commitment to the ground game Sunday didn’t come easily. Take away Murray’s 44-yard run in the middle of the third quarter, and his other 23 carries averaged only 2.4 yards.
With Tony Romo, version 2.0, however, less is sometimes going to be more. Burned by route-jumping Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the second quarter, Romo returned the favor in the third quarter on a 68-yard rainbow to a wide-open Dez Bryant.
Romo then converted three third-down situations on an 11-play, 84-yard, fourth-quarter scoring drive that gave the Cowboys the lead for good.
All three third downs had touches of retro-Romo, including his Alec Ogletree-juking 16-yard run on third-and-13.
“To me that was the play of the game,” Witten said, praising Romo. “The guy’s got unbelievable will. To be able to compete and have a short memory after the interception, and then come back and put the team on his shoulders, that was a big play.”
The irony of escaping and lunging for a vital first down, post-surgery back and all, was not lost later on one smiling quarterback.
“The run was good,” Romo said, tongue firmly in cheek. “I had to make one guy miss. That was obviously an exceptional move ... that I think he probably wants back.”
While praising his teammate, though, Witten was quick to tap the brakes.
“Nobody’s kidding themselves,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of areas we need to improve on, and we need to do it in a hurry.”
The Cowboys’ two victories have come against teams with a combined 2-4 record who also have been outscored 154-99. The Rams’ eight penalties for 119 yards Sunday also were no small factor in their squandering a 21-0 lead.
But as long as the Cowboys’ new run-focused offense is working, there hasn’t been a need for new coordinator Scott Linehan to fix it.
More importantly than that, Romo 2.0 seems to have bought into it. There’s a sense that he’s becoming more comfortable with his new surgically repaired quarterbacking body, even if it means taking a Wednesday practice off.
“Yeah, I did,” Romo said. “I felt stronger, felt as if everything was firing, activation sequence, blah, blah, blah, stuff like that.”
The answer seemed to be Tony’s way of parodying the constant wearying questions about his back — and the things he can and can’t do with it.
He did more than enough with it Sunday.
As Tony Romo said, “We are who we are.”