IRVING (AP) — With the game on the line, Tony Romo got ready for another heart-stopping rally.
He dropped back to pass, cocked his arm — and the ball squirted out, an indication his hand injury was more than a minor inconvenience. But Romo bounced back to make a fourth-down conversion, keeping hope alive.
Then he dropped back again, saw Terrell Owens cutting to the sideline and threw it right where T.O. was supposed to be. But he wasn’t. He fell, so the ball went straight to one of the Philadelphia Eagles, the third time they’d caught a pass meant for Owens.
From aches and pains to painful mistakes, the Dallas Cowboys had little go their way Sunday. So there was no crazy comeback this time, just a 10-6 loss that ended their seven-game winning streak and raises questions about another December slide.
Dallas (12-2) had 240 yards, its fewest of the season, and didn’t score a touchdown for the first time since November 2004. Add in last week’s last-second victory in Detroit and the Cowboys have played two lousy games in a row.
“We’ll get back and right the ship,” Romo said. “I know I’ve got to come back to do better.”
He’s also got to come back healthy.
Romo hurt the thumb area on his passing hand on the same third-quarter play in which center Andre Gurode was hurt. X-rays shows no break, but it’s at least bruised. Romo had it wrapped and iced during his postgame news conference and insisted, “I’ll be fine.”
Philadelphia (6-8) ended a three-game losing streak, kept alive hopes of snagging a wild-card playoff berth and avenged a nationally televised blowout loss to Dallas six weeks ago. The Eagles also ended the Cowboys’ seven-game winning streak and prevented them from tying the franchise record for wins in a season.
As bad as it sounds for Dallas, the Cowboys knew before kickoff they’d secured a first-round bye — and that they couldn’t lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. So the stakes were pretty low. And they played like it.
“In the NFL, you can have days it doesn’t work for you, and this is one of those days,” team owner Jerry Jones said. “I’ve seen us play too well on offense, but what should concern everybody, is if this happens in the playoffs, you get to go home.”
Gurode and defense end Chris Canty went out with left knee injuries. Gurode is having an MRI Monday, but is expected to be OK. Canty should be fine. Backup safety Pat Watkins sprained his left ankle and tight end Anthony Fasano sustained a mild concussion.
Then there’s Terrell Owens, whose ego has to be smarting after waiting until the fourth quarter for his first catch against his former team. He had only two after having only three last week.
Worse yet, three passes Romo threw to him were caught by Philadelphia, including what turned out to be Dallas’ final offensive snap. T.O. slipped on the play, ending the locals’ hopes of seeing the kind of last-minute rally Romo pulled off in Detroit last week and Buffalo in October.
“We came out flat. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Owens said. “Maybe this is good for us — a gut-check.”
Romo finished 13-of-36 for 214 yards, with a career-low rating of 22.2. It came in front of his parents and his newest A-list girlfriend — Jessica Simpson, who tugged the front of her pink No. 9 jersey, then mouthed the word “Romo!” when cameras spotted her. For what it’s worth, Romo’s previous worst rating came last December against Philadelphia when then-girlfriend Carrie Underwood was here.
“If we go on and win the Super Bowl, the loss is a good thing,” Romo said. “If we lose first round of the playoffs, the loss is not a good thing.”