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Favre hurt; Romo shines as Cowboys lock up playoff berth

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JAIME ARON
November 30, 2007
— Standing together at midfield, finally giving cameramen the face-to-face meeting they were craving, Tony Romo and Brett Favre got ready for their showdown the way you’d expect from two star NFL quarterbacks.

“Exchanging recipes and stuff,” Romo said, snickering. “Guy talk.”


Then they got down to business, and it was even more entertaining – until Favre got hurt.


Favre injured the nerve in his right elbow and separated his left shoulder on one play in the second quarter and didn’t return. Romo was outplaying the guy he grew up watching and was able to hold off his backup, too, carrying the Dallas Cowboys to a 37-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.


Romo led Dallas to two field goals, then three touchdowns on his first five drives. He finished with four TD passes, giving the Cowboys (11-1) their sixth straight win and guaranteeing a spot in the playoffs, plus a two-game lead on home-field advantage in the playoffs. That means they have a leg up on avoiding a trip to Lambeau Field should these teams meet again in the NFC championship.


“I don’t think more than four people rooted for me in my hometown,” said Romo, the pride of Burlington, Wis. “Maybe they’ll forgive me.”


The Packers (10-2) ended a six-game winning streak, but are still in great shape for at least the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye because their next three opponents have losing records. And the idea of starting Aaron Rodgers next week may no longer be as dreadful to fans who have wondered if he was a wasted draft pick. In the most extended action of his career, he was 18-for-26 for 201 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.


“I thought he played great,” Favre said. “He gave us a chance to win.”


And Favre?


His run of 249 consecutive starts, a record that’s about six seasons longer than the next-best by a quarterback, might be in jeopardy because of the twin injuries sustained on one hit by backup cornerback Nate Jones. At least he has 10 days to heal before the Packers play again, Dec. 9 at home against Oakland.


“I had a similar injury last year,” said Favre, who was 5-for-14 for 56 yards with two interceptions and two more passes that could’ve been picked off. “I lost feeling in my fingers and I still have some tingling. But I think I’ll be fine.”


Rodgers, who spent the week pretending he was Romo in Green Bay practices, provided the kind of rally Favre usually specializes in. He even threw the first touchdown pass of his three-year career. But he’s no Brett Favre, so this comeback came up short.


Romo was 19-for-30 for 309 yards. He’s up to 33 TD passes, smashing the club season record. He tied another club mark by throwing a touchdown pass in his 16th straight game.


Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. He tied a team record with his 14th TD catch of the season and tied another mark with a TD catch in seven straight games. Patrick Crayton caught two of the touchdowns and Anthony Fasano the other.


Dallas also extended the best start in franchise history. With four games left, the Cowboys already have their most wins in a season since going 12-4 in 1995, their last Super Bowl season, and they’re two wins from matching the franchise record.


“It’s pretty amazing to break any record with all the glory this team has had,” first-year coach Wade Phillips said.


It’s a shame most of the country missed seeing this game because it sure was worthy of a bigger audience than the NFL Network can provide.


There were historic teams and star players, dramatic plays and bizarre ones – like T.O. juggling a potential back-breaking touchdown, letting it turn into an interception that could have let Green Bay take the lead.


Even the pregame coin toss was cool as Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman were honorary captains, joining Cowboys players dressed in throwback uniforms that hark back to the days when Vince Lombardi and the Packers dominated Tom Landry’s early Dallas teams.


Green Bay got a field goal on its first drive, but wouldn’t lead again. The Cowboys were up 6-3, then turned it into 27-10 in the span of just eight offensive snaps.


Then Favre left and Dallas’ intensity went, too. The lead frittered to 27-24 and after Al Harris caught the interception caused by Owens, the Packers were driving for a go-ahead touchdown. But Green Bay’s bid ended quickly, then Romo drove right back for a touchdown that made it 34-24.


Rodgers led a drive for a field goal, then the Packers needed a stop from their defense. But with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and cornerback Charles Woodson inactive with injuries, they couldn’t do it.



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