IRVING, Texas – Owner Jerry Jones recently sat in a suite in Seattle almost directly on top of where quarterback Tony Romo fumbled the field goal snap that sent the Dallas Cowboys packing in the first round of the 2006 playoffs.
Jones said he still remembers that bird’s eye view well, but the resurgent Romo who took over as the Cowboys starter that season is a much different player than the one returning to Seattle this weekend for the first time since the Wild Card defeat.
“You have seen, in his case, a person and a player that is continually striving for ways to get better,” Jones said. “It’s one of his best qualities. He never sits still or thinks in the now. He’s always trying to think ahead, getting better in different circumstances, how he can be a better player for the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just the time that has passed and the nature of Romo says probably all you need to say. As far as learning lessons from experiences, again, he’s excellent at that and incorporating the negatives in his game as well.”
Jones said he felt like Romo was coming into his own as a quarterback when the playoffs began that year. Romo made his first Pro Bowl despite starting just 10 regular season games, after taking over for Drew Bledsoe at halftime in Week 7 against the Giants.
Romo became the first starting quarterback in Dallas to throw for more than 220 yards in his first eight career starts that year. He finished second in the NFL with a 65.28 completion percentage.
“That was an early preview of what you have in Romo, relative not necessarily to the dropped ball, but just what Romo can bring to the table,” Jones said.
But the season will forever be marred by the fumbled field goal snap, which resulted in a shoestring tackle stopping him two yards short of the end zone and one yard short of a first down late in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Bill Parcells, who came to Dallas in 2003, retired after the 2006 season. Jones said the loss to the Seahawks wasn’t the cause.
“I had always had a good understanding and good feel for where Bill was relative to his motivation and relative to his clock,” Jones said. “His decision to not coach anymore wasn’t just a shock to me. I wanted him to continue if he wanted to continue, but I knew kind of a timeframe he was looking to when he took the job.”
The Seahawks lost in overtime a week later to the Bears, 27-24. Jones said he thought if the Cowboys could have found a way to beat Seattle, they’d have a good chance to make a playoff run.
“It was very disappointing,” Jones said. “But not nearly as disappointing as last year.”