IRVING (AP) — Of all the great players and great teams the Dallas Cowboys have had, Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and the 2007 club are the first to start 10-1.
And if 10-1 Green Bay wasn’t up next, the Cowboys might be able to savor such an accomplishment.
“We’re grateful for it and we made history, but it doesn’t end there,” Owens said. “We know there’s more football left this season.”
Dallas kept the stakes up for the next big matchup next Thursday night with a 34-3 victory over the New York Jets on Thursday that was as lopsided as it seems.
Romo led the Cowboys to a touchdown on the game-opening drive, then threw for another touchdown soon after. Once Terence Newman returned an interception 50 yards for another score midway through the second quarter, the only question left was whether Romo would throw another TD to tie the club single-season record.
With 6:12 left in the game, Romo did, hitting T.O. on a 22-yarder, adding another milestone to the Thanksgiving Day victory in which Dallas locked up its best record through 11 games in its 48-year, five-championship history.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve never done this before,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “It just feels great, feels good to be a part of.”
Anyone watching this game probably spent much of the second half chatting about the upcoming battle for NFC supremacy.
If the Indianapolis-New England game earlier this month was hyped as Super Bowl 41 1/2, the Cowboys-Packers clash might as well get billed as Super Bowl 41 1/2. It has all the elements: Famous franchises and marquee quarterbacks, with the chance to force or avoid a late-January trip to Lambeau Field possibly on the line. There’s also the juicy subplot of Romo having grown up in Wisconsin, back when Favre was winning MVPs and leading the Packers to Super Bowls.
“I still root them on, although slowly I’m starting to root against them,” Romo said, adding that he caught a little of Favre’s season-high 381 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-26 victory over Detroit on television before this game kicked off.
“He was good — a little bit too good,” Romo said, laughing. “Hopefully he had his best game of the year today.”
This game certainly lacked the drama next week’s game holds.
New York (2-9) was coming off a victory over AFC power Pittsburgh, but quickly reverted to the form of a team that had lost its previous six games.
Kellen Clemens was sacked on each of his first two series and the Jets didn’t cross midfield until their final drive of the second quarter. Things were so bad that at the 2-minute warning, Jets coach Eric Mangini challenged the spot of a third-down play, hoping to trim a yard or two off fourth-and-3. He didn’t get an inch.
And all that came in New York’s good half. After intermission, the Jets didn’t get a first down until there was 5:19 left in the game, part of a drive that ended at the 1-yard line.
“There were things that we had to do in all three phases to have a chance, and we didn’t even come close to doing those,” Mangini said.
The 31-point margin was a season high for both teams. Dallas also did not allow a touchdown for the first time this season.
“I thought it was a solid, solid game,” said Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, whose club has won five straight since their only loss, to the Patriots. “We played well throughout. That’s the way we need to play at home.”
Clemens was 12-for-27 for 142 yards. One of the incompletions for the right-handed quarterback was thrown left-handed while trying to avoid a sack.
“We couldn’t handle the big stage,” safety Kerry Rhodes said of the holiday outing on national television. “We didn’t play good enough to win. It’s indicative of our season.”
Romo was nowhere near as crisp as last Thanksgiving, when he threw five touchdowns. But he was good enough.
A secondary determined not to get beat deep and a pinky injury on his throwing hand left him throwing many of his passes underneath. He also underthrew potential touchdowns to Owens and Jason Witten, but made up for it by hitting them both on other scores.
Witten had an early 25-yarder and finished with four catches for 54 yards. Owens had six catches for 65 yards, the last being his 22-yard TD. That stretched his TD streak to five straight and give him 13 this season, matching his NFL-leading total from last season.