Colts 14

(9-1, 4-1 away)

Cowboys 21

(6-4, 3-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, November 19, 2006

Texas Stadium, Irving, TX 

1 2 3 4 T
IND 0 7 7 014
DAL 0 0 7 1421

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (IND) - 254 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: J. Jones (DAL) - 22 CAR, 79 YDS

Receiving: R. Wayne (IND) - 7 REC, 111 YDS, 1 TD

Romo, Cowboys saddle Colts with first loss of season

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Clutching the game ball in one hand, Tony Romo reached over with his other and gave Peyton Manning a consolatory pat on the helmet.

"I wished him good luck. He did the same," Romo said. "He's like, 'You're a good player.' So that's meaningful to me."

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
This game was touted to be one between two high-powered offenses that were going to light up the scoreboard with points. As it turned out this game became one of defense, field position and turnovers as the Cowboys upset the visiting Colts and ended Indy's chance at an undefeated season. The Cowboys, true to form, started the game trying to run the football on the Colts 32nd-ranked run defense. Though they had trouble running the football in the first half, they stuck with the run and Julius Jones and Marion Barber combined for 114 yards even though the Cowboys had trouble adapting to the quicker Colts front seven. Tony Romo (above) continued to run the Cowboys offense efficiently, completing 82 percent of his passes with one interception. The offense won the battle of time of possession as they held on to the ball for over seven minutes longer than the Colts, keeping Peyton Manning off the field.

In the first start for both quarterbacks at Texas Stadium, it was Romo -- not Manning, the six-time Pro Bowler -- who was efficient throughout and at his best late, carrying the Dallas Cowboys to a 21-14 victory to spoil the Indianapolis Colts' bid for a perfect season.

"This is big. We've been trying to get ourselves a little momentum for a while," Romo said. "This is a game you have to say you had to have. You know as well as I do that we're running out of games here. We needed this win badly."

Dallas (6-4) is two games over .500 for the first time all season. With four of their remaining six games at home and with the rest of their division ailing, the Cowboys are in prime position to make a run at the division title.

It's a stunning turnaround considering how badly they looked in their last home game, a lopsided loss to the New York Giants. But a halftime quarterback change that game, from Drew Bledsoe to Romo, has transformed the club. The Cowboys have won two in a row and three of four with Romo starting.

And give the defense bonus points for playing so well in their first game since Greg Ellis, their captain and MVP thus far, was lost to an injury.

"It was a great team win," said Terrell Owens, who had four catches for 70 yards. "We're getting better each week. That's what we strive to do."

Elias Says
Tony Romo
Tony Romo, making the fourth start of his NFL career, led the Cowboys to a 21-14 win over the previously undefeated Colts (9-1). Romo was the first QB to defeat a team with a record of 7-0 or better with as few as three prior starts in the NFL. Two QBs defeated teams with a 6-0 record in their fourth NFL start: Mark Malone of the Steelers over the 49ers in 1984 and Doug Flutie of the Patriots over the Bengals in 1988. It was only the second time in Bill Parcells' NFL head-coaching career that he faced an undefeated team with more than three wins. The other was a 31-10 Giants loss to the 49ers (5-0) 22 years ago, in Parcells' second season.

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Coming off a performance that earned him the NFC offensive player of the week award, Romo was 19-of-23 for 226 yards with an interception; he was 10-of-11 in the second half.

Romo was at his best on the final three drives, taking Dallas 68 yards to tie it, 80 yards to go ahead, and making enough first downs to burn the final 2:59 without letting Indianapolis get another snap.

"Thank goodness the ball didn't get back in Peyton Manning's hands," coach Bill Parcells said.

A week after becoming the first team to start 9-0 in consecutive seasons, Indianapolis fell shy in its bid to match last year's 13-0 run, much less the perfect season by the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

The Colts had escaped close calls all season -- like two one-point wins over bad teams at home and five other wins by less than a touchdown -- but couldn't overcome four turnovers, their most in 79 games, dating to Nov. 25, 2001.

"We've been playing with fire -- and the fire caught us," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

After Manning's incompletions into the end zone on third and fourth downs from the 8, the Colts never got the ball back.

Marion Barber III, already with two fourth-quarter TD runs, picked up 20 yards on the first play with a facemask penalty adding 15 more. Romo then rolled to his right and hit tight end Anthony Fasano for another 22 yards.

On third-and-7 after the Colts used their last timeout, Romo hit Terry Glenn on a quick slant to get just enough for the first down at the two-minute warning. Romo ran out the clock with three kneel-downs, then took the ball and found Manning near midfield.

The victory is just as big for Dallas as the loss is disappointing for Indianapolis.

To team owner Jerry Jones, it was like "a couple of wins in the '90s that showed our team that they could do it," referring to clubs that won three Super Bowls.

When Parcells made the quarterback switch last month, Jones was so disappointed that he lowered his expectations for this season. He was no longer convinced this team could be "special."

Romo's emergence and a victory over Manning have revved up the owner's expectations again.

"I expected it to be a mountain to climb," Jones said. "How he's been able to play, what he's been able to do. To step in there tonight, get off to a rough start and come back around and play like he played, those are the kinds of things that are really impressive."

Romo lost a fumble on a sack by Dwight Freeney on the opening drive, then threw an interception soon after. He didn't get the Dallas offense inside the Indianapolis 20 until the final 30 seconds of the third quarter.

However, once he did, the Cowboys grabbed control for good.

Barber scored from the 5 to tie it early in the fourth, capping a 68-yard drive. Then Romo followed with the 80-yard series, again capped by a Barber TD, that put Dallas ahead for the first time.

Manning threw two interceptions after having thrown only three all year. He lost his first fumble of the season and Marvin Harrison lost his first since 2004.

Still, the loss could be somewhat of a relief. There won't be any more questions about chasing the hallowed mark of the 1972 Miami Dolphins or their own 13-0 start last season. The focus now returns to mundane topics like winning the division and becoming the AFC's top seed, all of which seems within reach considering the Colts' remaining foes are a combined 25-34.

"It's not a positive when you lose a game," said Manning, who also had a season-high 19 incompletions and was sacked twice on one drive after going down only 10 times all season coming in. "We're going to dissect the film and find things we can build on. It's been awhile since we lost a regular season game. But that doesn't make this less painful."

Manning went 20-of-39 for 254 yards and was off from the start, failing to get any points out of Romo's early turnovers.

After a putting together a long drive just before halftime for a 7-0 lead, Manning had a chance to build on it at the start of the second half. Instead, his second pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Kevin Burnett, who returned it 39 yards for the tying score.

"I told the team [this win] ought to tell them something about what they're capable of doing," said Parcells, who in his 19 years in the NFL had never ended an opponent's perfect start this deep into a season. "If we keep playing like this, we have a chance to do something."

Game notes

Former Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed from 43 and 46 yards in the first half. Fans were so upset they booed a commercial he appeared in that was shown on the stadium monitors. ... Vanderjagt's last two-miss game was Nov. 17, 2002, when he and the Colts beat the Cowboys. ... Dallas safety Roy Williams had his second interception of Manning, impressive for someone with 16 in his career. ... Rocky Boiman, cut by the Cowboys in training camp, was one of the Colts' team captains. Bledsoe came out alone for the coin toss since Ellis is the defensive captain.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2224
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6460
Total Yards335342
Yards per play5.25.7
Total Drives1011
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-32-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

indTD0:16Reggie Wayne, 23 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri kick is good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 88 yds, 2:53
dalTD14:23Kevin Burnett, 39 yd interception return (Mike Vanderjagt kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 4 yds, 0:51
indTD5:14Dallas Clark, 4 yd pass from Peyton Manning (Adam Vinatieri kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 4:28
dalTD11:40Marion Barber, 5 yd run (Mike Vanderjagt kick is good)
Drive info: 15 plays, 68 yds, 8:33
dalTD6:04Marion Barber, 1 yd run (Mike Vanderjagt kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 3:51