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Cowboys quarterback better not stumble against the Giants

January 13, 2008|Jim Litke | Associated Press

Tread lightly, people.

Even Samson and Delilah weren't subjected to this much pregame hype.

But if you're into unhappy endings, then by all means, buy into it. Root against Tony Romo and his temptress, Jessica Simpson, to get what's coming to them when New York visits Dallas on Sunday. Imagine that: fiddling with a starlet on a sun-splashed beach in Mexico while the playbook burned to be read.

Besides, Romo is already set up for the fall. The numbers say he rarely plays well after Dec. 1. he still has last season's playoff clunker rattling around his brain and now, in case you somehow missed it, he's got a girlfriend. Being distracted is not a sin, but apparently there's no convincing some people.

So if you're one of them, if you think the quarterback of the everything-is-big-in-Texas Dallas Cowboys has to be just as bland as every other QB in the NFL, then hope that Romo plays really lousy or better yet, that he loses the game on a last-second gaffe of his own making. Again.


I hope he brings the house down.

I hope beats the Giants' Eli Manning in a fireworks display, capping a five-TD evening with a sideline-to-sideline, wild-hare scramble into the end zone that brings a delirious crowd to its feet and rips off the rest of the roof covering Cowboys Stadium.

Either way, let's be clear about this much: The outcome will have a lot more to do with whether the injured Terrell Owens is on the field than whether Simpson is in the stands. You might not know that from the way Romo's little excursion to Cancun stole the headlines earlier this week, but he does.

"I know what I needed to get myself in a position to hopefully be successful," Romo said Wednesday, while videos of the canoodling couple continued to ping across the Internet.

"You know, people asking for tickets, media requests, all these things during the weekend -- I was able to put the phone aside and get myself ready and watch some football for two straight days. It was really fun and exciting."

Romo is approaching a critical juncture in his career. He hardly needs reminding. He has yet to win a playoff game and he owes Dallas for fumbling one away last season, when he couldn't get the ball down for a chip-shot field goal against Seattle.

Worse, Romo is mired in his second straight late-season slide. As the mercury drops, so does his quarterback rating. He's 15-3 through the first three months of the season, and 3-6 afterward. And teams like the Giants, that specialize in bringing a big, punishing pass rush, present particular problems.

They force Romo from the pocket -- from which he's sometimes only too happy to roam -- and into big mistakes or great plays. That's why his old coach, Bill Parcells, got used to watching the end of games with his fingers covering his eyes. But that's who Romo is. He welcomes the risk almost as much as the reward. He understands it comes with the territory.

Besides, what was he supposed to do with a weekend off and orders from his current coach, Wade Phillips, to "get off your feet and forget football"? Study more game film in a darkened room with a cold towel on his head while ocean waves lapped nearby and Simpson beckoned?

This is just as much about Romo's offensive line and running back Marion Barber showing up as it is about Romo being able to blow kisses toward the luxury box where Simpson is stashed. If the Cowboys want the cold-blooded, efficient passer who piles up numbers from the pocket in the first three months of the season, then they need to protect Romo and provide him with options, especially if Owens is too hobbled to stretch the New York defense.

He'll be the same guy either way. Which means if things break down, Romo will revert to the swashbuckling guy he's always been.

Having a very demanding girlfriend isn't new and neither is the pressure. Back in November, when Romo was still being linked to Carrie Underwood and Britney Spears and before he settled on Simpson, Cowboys owner Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave him a new contract and a warning: "I tell you this, Tony, sometimes, they can smell fresh cash."

Well, Romo got around to spending some of it and I say, good for him. There's nothing wrong with having a personality and a little fun and if he winds up regretting it, the very engaging Tony Romeo will morph into the very boring Tony Roboto right before our eyes, and the league will be a lot poorer for it.

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