- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tony Romo could have walked through any mall in the Cowboys-mad Metroplex a year ago without drawing so much as a raised eyebrow. Romo, after all, had yet to throw a regular-season pass in his three years as a quarterback on the Dallas roster.

That changed when then-coach Bill Parcells benched veteran Drew Bledsoe in Game 6 last season and turned to the one-time undrafted rookie.

The Cowboys, 3-3 behind Bledsoe, won five of their next six games, losing only when a last-minute block of a field goal turned into the winning points for the Redskins.

Romo led the Cowboys to the playoffs for the first time in three years, compiled a 95.1 passer rating and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. But he dropped the snap on the go-ahead field-goal attempt against the Seahawks in the playoffs, the Cowboys lost and Romo briefly became an object of scorn.

“They don’t play here in Dallas, they’re serious,” safety Roy Williams told reporters this summer. “The whole mishap in Seattle, people rode Tony kind of hard, but as a team we collectively had his back and people got off him.”

Strolling unnoticed no longer was an option, so Romo embraced his newfound celebrity: He dated country chanteuse Carrie Underwood, was linked to actress Jessica Simpson and served as a judge at the Miss Universe pageant.

Such things can happen when you do well in the job previously held by Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

“It’s a whole different level of scrutiny in some ways, but you either have the temperament and mental approach to handle something like that from Day One or you really don’t,” said Romo, 27. “I think you find out a lot of times with the guys that make it, a lot of it is more mental than what people think.”

The question for Romo now is whether he can deliver the Cowboys their first playoff victory since Aikman was in his prime.

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