December 18, 2011 in Sports

Romo gets Cowboys back on winning track

Fred Goodall Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Dallas running back Felix Jones burned Tampa Bay for 108 yards on 22 carries.
(Full-size photo)

TAMPA, Fla. – Tony Romo was nearly flawless in getting the Dallas Cowboys back on track in the NFC East.

Romo threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth score Saturday night, helping the first-place Cowboys beat the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-15.

Dallas stopped a two-game losing streak in which it blew fourth-quarter leads to allow a seemingly solid grip on the division lead slip away.

The victory gave the Cowboys (8-6) a half-game lead over New York. Although the Giants hold a tiebreaker advantage after beating Dallas 37-34 last week, the Cowboys can claim the division title and host a playoff game by finishing with wins the next two weeks over Philadelphia at home and the Giants on the road.

The Bucs (4-10) lost for the eighth straight time and played a miserable first half that certainly didn’t do anything to help coach Raheem Morris make a case for keeping his job.

Romo threw a pair of 8-yard TD passes to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in the first quarter, then finished a seven-play, 89-yard drive with a 9-yarder to Laurent Robinson to make it 21-0 with just less than 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Romo made it 28-0 on a quarterback sneak in the closing seconds of the half.

Tampa Bay managed just one first down and was outgained 279 yards to 55 in the first two quarters, but found a way to make it interesting in the second half.

The Bucs, who had yielded 69 consecutive points dating to the second quarter of the previous week’s 41-14 loss to Jacksonville, finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when rookie Adrian Clayborn sacked Romo from behind, forcing a fumble that linebacker Dekoda Watson returned 4 yards for a TD for a much-needed spark.

Dallas’ Felix Jones rushed for 108 yards.

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