Commentary

Jones: 'Best I've ever felt about him'

Updated: January 7, 2010, 11:30 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo's playoff record (0-2) is irrelevant right now.

That history is written. We remember the snap slipping through his hands in Seattle, a play that left Romo sobbing in front of his locker at the end of a spectacular first season as a starter. We also remember the post-vacation home loss to the New York Giants the following postseason.

"Those are lifetimes ago," Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He's certainly developed as a quarterback, and this is a completely different team."

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Dave MartinTony Romo has the Dallas Cowboys pointed in the right direction. After leading the team into the playoffs, he'll now try to end the team's slide of 13 years without a playoff victory.

For the first time, Romo's team is riding high as it enters the postseason, having won its final three games to claim the NFC East title and set up a third round Saturday night with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium.

Romo's streak of remarkable play extends the past six games. During that span, he's completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,859 yards and 11 touchdowns while committing only two turnovers. He's made the transformation into a quarterback who makes ball security a priority while maintaining his playmaking ability. He's emerged as a leader the Cowboys can rally around.

"This is the best I've ever felt about him," owner/general manager Jerry Jones said moments after the regular-season finale, a few weeks after Jones mentioned Romo as the primary reason he thought the Cowboys were Super Bowl contenders.

Romo eliminated any doubt that he can live up to franchise quarterback standards in late-season pressure situations. However, quarterbacks around these parts are judged by the number of Super Bowl rings they own, thanks to Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

Danny White is the ex-Cowboys quarterback Romo gets compared with most often. Cowboys fans consider White a symbol of playoff failure because of three consecutive losses in NFC Championship Games. Just imagine the reaction if Romo can't help America's Team end a 13-season playoff win drought.

"You can't forget where you've been. But at the same time, you can't relate that to what's happening right now because of the way we're playing, especially from his standpoint," tight end Jason Witten said. "Just the way he's running the game and creating so much and not turning the ball over, you can't feel more confident. Really, it's unfair to compare those [playoff losses] to now."

Don't hold your breath waiting for Romo, who had mediocre performances in his first two postseason appearances, to address the greater meaning of his winless playoff record this week.

To him, it's foolish to believe that there's some sort of psychological explanation for coming up a score short in a pair of playoff games.

"You're either good enough," he has said several times, "or you aren't."

The Romo of recent weeks has been good enough. Recent history suggests that his poor playoff track record shouldn't be weighed too heavily while making predictions.

The knock on Peyton Manning was that he couldn't win the big one after his first eight seasons produced only three playoff victories for the Indianapolis Colts. Then the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.

Eli Manning had a similar experience the next season. He was considered a quarterback who came up small in big games (0-2 in playoffs) until the New York Giants' Super Bowl XLII run that included a stop at Texas Stadium.

"Why not us?" Witten asked.

If Romo stays on a roll, anything is possible.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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