ARLINGTON — Tony Romo was booed early. Booed for doing right. He went into a slide just short of the goal line, meaning a red-zone possession ended in a field goal.
Did the boo-birds forget the ribs? Or forget the Jets game of September and what happened when Romo attempted to bulldoze the end zone on a scramble?
Restless crowd. Regrouping team.
Both factors were definitely in play here Sunday afternoon. There was a game that needed to be won. There was a season that needed resuscitation.
Otherwise, forget it for 2011.
But the Cowboys managed to accomplish both objectives — the win and the resuscitation coming off a DOA effort in Philly — thanks to several positive developments, the most prominent being it was the Seattle Seahawks providing the opposition.
Otherwise, who knows, but let’s not quibble, right, over any kind of win, which in this case was a 23-13 decision that took the Cowboys to the halfway point of the NFL campaign with a 4-4 record.
Thus opened a stretch of schedule where “winnable” games stretch into early December, except…
These Cowboys haven’t earned the right yet to consider any game “winnable.”
After a first half of extreme offensive frustration against the Seahawks — two field goals off a massive 304 total yards — Romo found Jason Witten wide open (with no Miles Austin since the first half due to an injury, how does a defense lose Jason bleeping Witten?) for a third-quarter TD pass that covered 33 yards.
Witten also made a terrific third-down grab in the fourth quarter, setting up another TD pass, this one to Laurent Robinson and also on third down, after Romo kept the play alive by scrambling around, and almost…
Yes, running it again from the 6-yard line.
This time there was a massive cheer from a Big Yard house where empty seats were prominent, indicating a sign of the times for the Cowboys, and also the low profile of the visiting club.
But the Seahawks are at least capable on defense. It’s the offense that suffers, and the Cowboys’ defense did what it should have done in limiting Tarvaris Jackson and those troops.
On the other side of the ball, Romo had an excellent, mistake-free game against a better challenge.
Sure, he heard the first-half boos after the slide. Ribs? The Jets game? Romo mentioned both afterward, and threw in some jokes to boot.
“I did not take a [pain-killer] shot. This is the first time I haven’t [since the San Francisco game], but if I had taken the shot there is no question I wouldn’t have slid.”
But seriously …
“No, I think I gauged the level I could get into the end zone and it came up zero in my brain as I was running. I tried against the Jets, and obviously that did not turn out well at that time, and I really wasn’t that close then.
“Obviously, I will always dive for the end zone if there is any chance. The percentage was very low at that moment.”
Despite the fans’ displeasure at that play, Romo forced nothing all afternoon. He’s heard much more displeasure in the past for playing out of control, right? Overcoming frustration, as in the first half for the offense, was a test for staying in control.
“Frustration is not a healthy emotion to have during a ballgame,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We talk about going to the next play, going to the next series. We just have to keep going.”
Easy to say, harder to accomplish at times, particularly because the Cowboys had first-and-goal twice in the first half, and ended up with field goals. Then Dez Bryant fumbled away a pass reception at the Seattle 1.
A 6-6 tie at intermission did not bode well after 304 yards of offense compared with 134 for Seattle.
But a healthy combination of a downfield passing attack (now there’s a different concept) combined with a ground game that rookie DeMarco Murray has revitalized, and the Cowboys were successful in the “keep going” department.
Romo stressed there was no playbook overhaul for a suddenly successful vertical passing game, and although the question wasn’t asked, this apparently wasn’t a case of Garrett removing the training wheels from his quarterback.
“The credit needs to go up front,” Romo said of the offensive line. “They allowed me to step up into the pocket and go through reads and progressions. If you get that kind of time it’s going to be a good day.”
And a good day for overcoming the first half of all that yardage and nothing in the way of touchdowns.
“If you become frustrated, and I have been part of this in the past, you feel like you have to do too much,” said Romo.
We all know that’s the truth.
But a win happened on Sunday. All is well, at least for now.
Randy Galloway | Ft Worth Star Telegram
Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM