Romo is one tough Cowboy

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. (Reuters)

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. (Reuters)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:16 PM ET

For a week all Tony Romo heard about was what a bum he was. How he couldn’t get it done in the clutch anymore.

But Romo doesn’t have the highest fourth quarter quarterback rating in NFL history for no reason.

Apparently he’s no slouch in overtime either.

Romo, playing with a fractured rib, rallied the 1-1 Cowboys from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 27-24 overtime win over the arch-rival San Francisco 49ers, also 1-1, at Candlestick Park on Sunday.

Romo hit unknown receiver Jesse Holley for a 77-yard gain after the Niners failed to get anything going to start the extra frame and rookie kicker Dan Bailey did the rest, booting in a 19-yard field goal, much to the delight of the many Cowboys fans on hand.

Dallas had said Romo would not return after leaving the game at the half after taking a massive shot from the blind side by Carlos Rogers.

But after a brief John Kitna sighting, stunningly, Romo returned — and dominated. A miserable 8-of-17 before the injury, Romo went 12-for-16 from there, including a 12-yard touchdown strike to Miles Austin — Austin’s third touchdown catch of the game in a jaw-dropping nine catch, 143-yard performance.

“Ribs are tough,” Romo said.

“It’s just hard to breathe, and talk really. You have to talk loud, especially on the road.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — who staunchly defended his quarterback all week — said he was moved by Romo’s performance.

“It’s got to be one of those things that will follow him through his career,” Jones said.

“I know what he had to do to get back on the field … but, boy, did he come back. That was inspirational.”

Hundreds of thousands of football fans must be suffering from whiplash right about now stemming from jumping on and off the Romo bandwagon.

Right from the start, it appeared Dallas’ stay in the Heartbreak Hotel would continue.

A week after blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead over the New York Jets, Bailey missed an early 21-yard field goal attempt and watched in horror as Frank Gore and Kyle Williams found their way into the end zone to give the Niners a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Romo was erratic from there, then appeared to be forced to the sidelines.

When Kitna threw a pair of interceptions around a touchdown to Austin, all appeared lost for the visitors, but Romo returned to turn the tide.

Romo said there was no way he was staying out.

“I just told (head coach Jason Garrett) I was good to go. I think he asked some of the guys,” Romo said.

“I didn’t give him too much of a chance. I just ran on the field.”

Dallas was good — as 472 yards of offence (345 of those thrown by Romo) to San Francisco’s 206 attests — and they were lucky.

Seemingly forced to punt late in the opening half in a game the Niners were controlling, instead, the Cowboys got another chance following a penalty.

Romo took advantage, hitting Austin for a 53-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Later, down three, Austin fumbled a rare carry, but Dallas recovered, allowing Bailey to boot a 48-yarder to force overtime.

San Francisco deserved to lose this one. The team was outplayed and outcoached.

The Niners’ secondary looked clueless on Holley’s game-deciding catch and Harbaugh opted to take a made field goal late, when a Dallas penalty would have allowed his offence to keep on chugging and to eat up more all important time on the clock.

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith was decent, throwing for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including Delanie Walker’s important 29-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, but his offensive line let him down.

Smith was sacked six times, Romo, just once.

Both teams were missing marquee young receivers. Dallas’ Dez Bryant was unable to go and the enigmatic Michael Crabtree was held out by San Francisco.

Thanks to Austin and Holley — who had never before even caught an NFL pass — Bryant’s absence wasn’t a concern, but the Niners badly missed Crabtree and his big-play potential.

QUICK HITS

Lions kicker Jason Hanson set a NFL record by playing his 297th game with the same team. Bruce Matthews had played 296 games for Houston/Tennessee, while Darrell Green had played 295 with Washington … Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew hurt his shoulder … Larry Fitzgerald tied Roy Green’s Arizona record for touchdown catches when he caught his 66th and went over 100 yards receiving for the 27th time, tying Anquan Boldin’s team record … Byron Westbrook forced a key fumble to seal Washington’s win, but was only on the field because cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Kevin Barnes left the game … Baltimore lost nose tackle Terrance Cody to a concussion and return man David Reed hurt his shoulder … Minnesota has started a season 0-2 for the first time since they opened 2002 0-4 … San Francisco lost wide receiver Braylon Edwards and his status was unclear following the game.


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