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Romo gets win as Cowboys rally past Panthers, 35-14

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Associated Press

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Tony Romo waited four years to get his first NFL start. It looks as if he'll have the job for some time.

 

Romo rallied Dallas from a 14-point first-quarter deficit, throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown, and Julius Jones ran for 94 yards and a score to help the Cowboys beat Carolina 35-14 on Sunday night. Dallas set a team record with 25 fourth-quarter points.

 

Romo, starting in place of the benched Drew Bledsoe, slowly led the Cowboys (4-3) back, with poise, using a variety of short passes to a number receivers.

 

Early in the fourth quarter, facing a third-and-12 from the Carolina 21, Romo sidestepped pressure and fired a 16-yard pass to Jason Witten. But the drive stalled when Romo misfired to Witten in the end zone on third down, and Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 24-yard field goal to cut the Panthers' lead to 14-13.

 

On the ensuing kickoff, Sam Hurd ripped the ball from Brad Hoover and recovered the fumble at the Carolina 14. On the next play, Jones ran untouched up the middle for the touchdown. The Cowboys added the 2-point conversion when Romo faked a draw and threw a pass to Terrell Owens to make it 21-14.

 

Owens had nine catches for 107 yards and was impressed with Romo's poise.

 

"Tony gives us a different change of pace," Owens said. "He gets the ball out quick and he gave us some chances. Everybody came up with some big plays today. Jason Witten played tremendous over the middle."

 

Dallas sealed the win when Roy Williams intercepted Jake Delhomme's throw on the next possession. Delhomme lost another fumble with under 2 minutes to go, Carolina's third turnover in the fourth quarter.

 

"This is about as poor of a performance in the fourth quarter that I have been associated with," coach John Fox said. "I apologize for all the people who paid for tickets."

 

Marion Barber had touchdown runs of 3 and 14 yards late as Dallas coach Bill Parcells won a game after trailing by 14 points in the first quarter for only the second time in his career. The victory justified his decision to sit Bledsoe and end his streak of 70 consecutive starts. Bledsoe paced the sideline for most of the game, wearing a visor and occasionally glancing down at the play chart on his wrist, while applauding Romo's performance.

 

"We haven't been having a lot of fun around here. They're having fun right now," Parcells said. "That's the thing that I enjoy the most. When I see the faces of those players."

 

Romo completed 24 of 36 passes and had one interception, which led to Steve Smith's 24-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 in the second quarter.

 

But the Panthers (4-4) were plagued by mistakes as they lost their second straight, blowing double-digit leads in both. Instead of Romo struggling in his first NFL start, it was Delhomme, making his 62nd straight start, who had problems. He was 17-of-31 for 149 yards and an interception.

 

Smith, Michael Gaines, DeShaun Foster and Keyshawn Johnson all dropped passes. Johnson's might have been a touchdown in the third quarter, spoiling his first game against Dallas since he was released in a salary cap move so the Cowboys could sign Terrell Owens.

 

The Panthers were even plagued by a coaching miscue. John Fox called a timeout late in the first half that wiped out Richard Marshall's blocked field goal. Given a second chance, Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 38-yarder to make it 14-10 at halftime.

 

"Hopefully with the bye coming that will give us a chance to get healthy and maybe find some guys who can finish games," Fox said.

 

Foster rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown for Carolina, which lost starting cornerback Ken Lucas to a groin injury in the first quarter, forcing rookie Richard Marshall to alternate coverage on Owens and Terry Glenn.

 

:thumbsup: to Romo and the Cowboys' effort against Carolina tonight.

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Rumor has it that the Redskins are changing their quarterback for next week. Anyone heard anything on that?

 

I'm not forgetting that Washington has been a thorn in their side the past year or so .... I'm confident, but cautious that the Boys will ride out of town with another road win next week!!!!!

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Dallas has tripped over their own feet and $$$$ billfold trying to get a quarterback to replace Aikman. Well, it's only one game, but I hope it's Romo. If so, they can now concentrate on the "O" line.

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I didn't want the QB change this early because I thought Romo would go through a lot of growing pains to start with, but it looks like I was wrong. He played great last night. I had no doubt he would be a good QB eventually, but I'm glad eventually is now. Hopefully he can keep it up and lead Dallas to the playoffs.

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Starter vs "come in off the bench". There's a big difference in the mentality of the two. Romo looked like he'd had a week to work with the 1st team .... he looked prepared.

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