Romo, Cowboys escape Browns in OT

Art Garcia The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony Romo and Dez Bryant finally may be starting to click.\
The Dallas Cowboys much-maligned quarterback-receiver tandem hooked up like never before Sunday afternoon in a 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium.
Bryant racked up a career-high 145 receiving yards on 12 catches, including a go-ahead 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Dallas pulled back to even on the season at 5-5 by rallying from a 13-0 first half deficit and forcing OT with a field goal at the end of regulation.
Dan Bailey ended the game with a 38-yard field goal on the Cowboys' second possession in overtime. The victory keeps the Cowboys' playoff hopes afloat.
"Anybody who was watching understands who important that football game was," said Romo, who completed 35 of 50 for 313 yards and a touchdown. "You could feel it with the sense of urgency that our team played with. Our backs are against the wall with our record, so we have to continue to win football games."
Despite squandering a double-digit lead, the Browns (2-8) were in position to pick up their first road win of the season. Cleveland took a 20-17 lead with 1:07 to go on Brandon Weeden's 17-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson.
"We had a chance to close them out and weren't able to do it," Weeden said.
The Cowboys came right back down the field thanks in large part to 50 yards in penalties by Cleveland. Bailey drilled a 32-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to force the extra period.
"Hard-fought game," Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. "I compliment the Cowboys. They found a way to get at us a little bit and they finished it in overtime."
As important as that drive was for the Cowboys, they don't win without Bryant and Romo heating up. Bryant's previous career best was 110 yards against the New York Giants on Oct. 28. The third-year pro now has four career 100-yard games, with three coming this season.
"Dez played great today," Romo said. "We did a really good job. He handled all the looks they gave him smoothly. He went up and got the ball in tough situations. He ran good routes.
"You see the kind of player he can be when he plays football at the level that he can."
Bryant was pleased with his record afternooon.
"With a win, it feels good," he said. "Just got to put it behind me and get ready for Washington."
The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for their annual Thanksgiving home game against NFC East rival Washington. The Browns play host Pittsburgh next Sunday.
Dallas looked like a different team in the second half. The Cowboys' first drive after the break -- a 54-yard march that ended with a field goal -- nearly matched their offensive output of the first half.
The next drive surpassed it, putting the Cowboys back in the game. Dallas moved 89 yards as Romo began to find a rhythm with Bryant. The two connected four times on the possession, including an 11-yard slant to set up a 2-yard Felix Jones touchdown run.
The Cowboys took their first lead with 6:54 left in the game. Facing a second-and-19 from the Cleveland 28, Romo found a streaking Bryant in the corner of the end zone.
After the teams traded punts on the first three possessions, Cleveland took advantage of great field possession to score the game's first touchdown. Starting at the Dallas 48, the Browns found the end zone 10 plays later.
Cleveland converted three third downs along the way, including a 10-yard pass on third-and-goal from Weeden over the middle to Watson. The tight end took a big hit from safety Gerald Sensabaugh and briefly lost control of the ball before securing it for a score.
The Browns added a pair of field goals from Phil Dawson in the second quarter from 51 and 37 yards to take a 13-0 lead. As impressive as Cleveland's offense looked early, its defense was the story.
The Cowboys were unable to move the ball through the air or by ground in the first half. Romo was sacked three times, often voicing his displeasure to his offensive lineman after getting up off the turf. Dallas punted five times and managed just 68 yards of offense by halftime.
The Browns more than doubled that total (177 yards) going into the half. Trent Richardson had 62 yards rushing. Weeden, focusing on safe, short throws passed for 95 yards. Cleveland also converted 4 of 8 third downs. Dallas was 1 of 6.
The Cowboys finally threatened in the third quarter, driving the ball to the Cleveland 19 before another Romo sack. Dallas had to settle for Bailey's 44-yard field goal to cut the Browns' lead to 13-3.
NOTES: Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (foot) missed his fifth straight game. Felix Jones started in his place. Mackenzy Bernadeau made his first career start at center with Ryan Cook out. CB Mike Jenkins (back), WR Andre Holmes, G David Arkin, C Phil Costa and DE Sean Lissemore were inactive. ... Browns DB Buster Skrine made his third career start, replacing Joe Haden (oblique) in the lineup. DB Dimitri Patterson, DB Ray B Owen Marecic, DL Ronnie Cameron and OL Jarrod Shaw were also inactive. ... The Browns sacked Romo seven times. Those were the most sacks for Cleveland since piling up eight against Pittsburgh in 2010.

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