The Tony Romo haters have to hate the way the 2012 NFL season kicked off.
For the past nine years, the previous season’s Super Bowl winner has kicked off the season with a home game. For the first time in these nine years, the defending Super Bowl champs lost the opener at home as, in a much-anticipated NFC East rumble, Romo’s Cowboys out-dueled Eli’s Giants, 24–17.
Romo was brilliant. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Sure, he had the one hiccup, when he threw a pick that put the Giants first-and-goal inside the Cowboys’ five yard line. But The Dallas defense, which was much-improved and for much of the night, stellar, held Eli and the NY boys to a field goal.
Romo’s interception came on a play where he got intense pressure up the middle and made a desperation pass with a defender in his face. The Giants had talked about pressure in Romo’s face and how that affects him. It did that once. But on two occasions, he escaped pressure to throw a brilliant touchdown pass, each time to unlikely hero,wideout Kevin Ogletree.
Ogletree had his best game as a pro. After fighting for his job all preseason and listening to pundits award it to first one competitor, then another, Ogletree showed up big on opening night. He caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. It was the kind of coming out party that has to strike fear in the hearts of upcoming opponents, considering the potent Cowboys’ offense already features man-child Dez Bryant and the speedy and sometimes brilliant Miles Austin. Both Bryant and Austin made solid contributions, with Austin snatching a Romo pass away from two defenders and scampering to the end zone to give the Cowboys a 24–10 lead. That seven points proved to be the margin of victory.
Last season, the Giants defeated the Cowboys twice and captured the division with a barely-respectable 9–7 record. They then won the Super Bowl. The Cowboys came into 2012 with a chip on their collective shoulder and with something to prove. Since quarterbacks these days are judged by wins and losses, especially in the big games, nobody had more to prove than Romo. And nobody stepped up bigger.
You have to think the Romo nay-sayers will have less to say.
For the moment.