RENTON – The Seattle Seahawks don’t know which Tony Romo will greet them when they travel to Arlington, Texas, to take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Will it be the clutch Romo, who played with a broken rib while quarterbacking his team to a come-from-behind, 27-24 overtime victory at San Francisco – the 49ers’ only loss this season?
Or will Seattle face the turnover-prone Romo, who lost a fumble and threw an interception in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ season-opening loss to the New York Jets?
“He’s a good quarterback,” Seattle defensive back Roy Lewis said. “He’s a gunslinger. He has that mentality. He definitely has that confidence about him that he feels like he can make any throw he wants to – which it works for him sometimes, and it works against him at other times.
“But that’s who he is, and we know that going into this game. I think we’re just going to have to be sound, because he is a big-play type of guy.”
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Romo is in his sixth season of dealing with the intense scrutiny that comes with being the starting quarterback of “America’s Team.”
He’s compiled some impressive statistics during his tenure. Among active quarterbacks, Romo has the highest passer rating in the fourth quarter (99.2). Romo has thrown three or more touchdowns in 20 games, and he’s thrown for 300 yards or more in 30 career games, more than double the previous franchise record. He has a 42-26 record as a starter.
And Romo has played pretty well against Seattle. In three games against the Seahawks, he has completed 60 of 99 passes (60.6 percent) for 776 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
Of course, many fans remember his only loss against the Seahawks, a 21-20 nail-biter in an NFC Wild Card game in January 2007, when Romo bobbled the hold on a short field-goal attempt late in the game that allowed Seattle to take over on downs and win at home.
Romo, 31, has never been fully embraced by the Cowboys’ fan base. As the team’s starting quarterback, he’s won just one playoff game. Last year, after a 1-4 start, a broken collarbone against the New York Giants put Romo on the shelf for the rest of the season and erased any chance for the Cowboys to turn around their season and make a run at the playoffs.
Dallas once again had high expectations heading into 2011, but after a 34-7 thumping at Philadelphia last Sunday has a 3-4 record, and if the playoffs started today, the Cowboys would be outside looking in.
“We’re just trying to get better as a team and trying to get some wins together in a row here,” Romo said. “We’ve been kind of up and down, and we just need to stack a couple wins together, and things will start going the right direction.
“The only way we can do that is play a good game this week against Seattle.”
Dallas coach Jason Garrett remains solidly behind his quarterback.
“He’s a quarterback that we’ve seen here for the last four or five years, a guy who when he need to can carry a lot of the burden of an offense,” Garrett said. “And when he needs to play in a more balanced attack, he’s able to do that as well.
“He needs to improve, just like everybody does, and he’s working hard that way to get better every day.”
Whatever happens on Sunday, Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne understands that how Romo performs will dictate the outcome of the game.
“You definitely have to pay attention to him, because I feel like he makes a bunch of his bigger plays when he’s scrambling around and kind of ad-libbing and stuff like that,” Hawthorne said. “He’s a good quarterback. He’s been to the Pro Bowl plenty of times (2006-07, 2009) and stuff like that, so people know about him.
“He’s not under the radar or anything like that, so we’ll definitely have to affect him, like you go at a quarterback of his caliber with disguises, blitzes and trying to affect him and keep him in the pocket.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org