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Ship Happens

Tony Romo's either The One or just the next one, but either way we'll savor this Sunday till the next one.

OK, in deference to last week's faux fiasco, that headline is a typo. But, gulp, after watching Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo last night in Carolina, he might not be a mistake after all.

Unlike predecessor Drew Bledsoe, Romo was able to overcome his team's missed field goals, endless penalties and shoddy protection to lead Dallas to a franchise-record 25 fourth-quarter points. Seriously, Romo wasn't just better than I expected. He was great. Now, let's not get carried away. He's not (like coach Bill Parcells said) Johnny Unitas, he's not (like John Madden said) Joe Montana, and he's not even Danny White. But Romo made only one Division I-AAish mistake, generated positive plays with his legs and arm, and, most important, reinvigorated a franchise that six days ago had all the emotion and energy of David Puddy.

After a special Saturday in which Parcells treated his team to a Taco Bell lunch and a heartfelt talk, the Cowboys looked like a different team than the one that was lambasted by the Giants at Texas Stadium a week ago. And it wasn't just the demotions of Bledsoe from quarterback and Patrick Watkins from free safety. Tight end Jason Witten was a prominent target. Terrell Owens was a star. And Parcells was a, well, he was a damn kissin' fool, that's what he was. We've noted in this space and the paper version of Unfair Park how Parcells never exhibits positive reactions or reinforcement. Make that almost never. With Giants old-timer Jim Burt serving as cheerleader, Parcells pumped his fist, gave a playful slap to T.O. and turned into Morganna, planting kisses on the cheeks and noggins of Flozell Adams and Keith Davis. As much as I despise Parcells, it was nice to see he spent at least one night being something other than a miserable human being.

"We haven't been having a lot of fun around here," Parcells said after the game. "I'm glad it worked out, temporarily anyway. We needed this one." On the verge of kissing the season goodbye, Parcells instead smooched anyone within lip's reach, hugged Ryan Fowler, high-fived Romo and playfully tugged T.O.'s cap. You can't win the Super Bowl in October. But, thanks to Romo, you can save your season. --Richie Whitt

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