In Dallas, it’s sinking in
Cowboys’ expected super season off to an 0-2 start
ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo walked toward the locker room thinking about all the mistakes the Dallas Cowboys made and all the crucial plays they didn’t make, the 0-2 hole they’re in and the lack of an easy way out.
With nothing else he could do about it, Romo smacked his hand against a wall in frustration.
Romo threw two weird interceptions and was far from crisp, his running game was absent, and his defense failed to protect two early leads, letting Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears pull out a 27-20 victory yesterday.
Despite all their woes, the Cowboys had a chance to tie it midway through the fourth quarter when new kicker David Buehler badly pulled a 44-yard field goal. After Cutler stretched the lead, Romo began a quick rally that could’ve kept things close, then receiver Roy Williams lost a fumble fighting for extra yards.
Now a club that’s hoping to end its season in the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium walks away from its home opener mired in its worst start since 2001 — the season Quincy Carter replaced Troy Aikman as quarterback. The problems are so widespread there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix.
“We’ve got to do things better and we need to figure out in a hurry how,’’ Romo said.
Fans of “America’s Team’’ will recall the 1993 club started 0-2 and finished as Super Bowl champs, but they were coming off a title and played the first two games without Emmitt Smith because of a contract dispute. This team might be losing key players.
Tight end Jason Witten left midway through the fourth quarter after slamming his head into the turf. Coach Wade Phillips would only say Witten “got banged up to where we had to hold him out.’’ Pro Bowl cornerback Mike Jenkins hurt his right knee soon after and is scheduled to have an MRI today.
“I think it is a crossroads right now,’’ Phillips said.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s trying to be patient, with Buehler (who also missed a 34-yarder in the opener) and everyone else.
“The best thing I can do right now is not knee-jerk,’’ he said.
However, Jones added, “I’m mad, I’m upset, I’m very frustrated and extremely disappointed.’’
Chicago went from a narrow escape at home against Detroit to a convincing road win over a team that was expected to be among the best in the NFC. D.J. Moore had both interceptions, Charles Tillman forced Williams’s key fumble, and Robbie Gould made field goals of 38 and 40 yards as the Bears improved to 2-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season in 2006.
“It was a signature game,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “We just made plays throughout.’’
Cutler was 21 of 29 for 277 yards. He ended up getting sacked only once, despite losing left tackle Chris Williams to a hamstring injury in the first quarter. He didn’t have any interceptions, and had a knack for making plays at the right time.
Once offensive coordinator Mike Martz had him make quicker dropbacks, Cutler shredded a blitz by hitting Greg Olsen in a vacated part of the field for a 39-yard touchdown.
The next series, Cutler hit a 59-yarder to Johnny Knox on third and 15, then found Devin Hester in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown.
Both drives came right after Dallas had scored touchdowns to go ahead.
Cutler iced the game on a short throw to Hester that the speedster turned into a 38-yard gain. Cutler followed with a 3-yard TD lob to Matt Forte.
Knox caught four passes for 86 yards. Hester, who had just one reception last week, caught four passes for 77 yards.
Romo was 34 of 51 for 374 yards and a 1-yard TD pass to rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski. Miles Austin caught 10 passes for 142 yards, and Dallas also got a 62-yard punt return for a TD from rookie Dez Bryant.