The first touchdown pass Tony Romo threw in the NFL was caught by Terrell Owens. The first play of Romo’s first start was a pass to Owens. The first receiver to have a 100-yard game from Romo? Yep, T.O.
There’s too much of a pattern for this budding relationship to be considered a coincidence — even if everyone involved insists that’s all it is.
And they truly are insisting.
“I don’t know about that,” Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said Wednesday when asked about the growing rapport between his new quarterback and the No. 1 receiver who didn’t look like one when Drew Bledsoe was throwing the passes.
“Well, I mean, I think he’s trying to get the ball to the guys that are open,” Parcells added.
Romo practically read off the same script, saying, “If I see you and you’re open, I’m just going to let the ball go. If I see you and you’re covered, I’m just going to go to the next one. Half the time, I don’t even look at who’s out there.”
Leave it to Owens to set the record straight, or at least come close to admitting the obvious.
After several politically correct answers to television cameras about Romo being “a change of pace,” he let his guard down later when asked about it again by print reporters. Smiling, laughing and turning away, he coyly said, “I don’t know what y’all are talking about.”
Then came the real answer.
“That’s just like you getting two guys together on a basketball court and they just naturally click, you know what I mean?” Owens said. “The relationship and chemistry will build. Some guys have that uncanny ability to kind of just mesh and feed off each other.”
Owens caught nine passes for 107 yards in Romo’s first start, a 35-14 victory over Carolina on Sunday night. The catches and yards were both season highs — thus, more than he had in any of the 5˝ games he played with Bledsoe.
In getting ready to play Romo, Owens and the Cowboys on Sunday, the Washington Redskins watched tape of that game. Cornerback Carlos Rogers came away convinced Romo and Owens already have a bond.
“We know that they’re so-called tight friends right now because he’s throwing him the ball a lot,” Rogers said.
The way Dallas used Owens against the Panthers was the biggest factor in unleashing him.
On the Cowboys’ first snap, Romo threw a quick pass to Owens practically at the line of scrimmage, giving him a chance to do what he does best: break tackles in the open field. This one went for 7 yards, but it set a tone. It also pacified Owens, letting him know that he was going to be more than a decoy.
“It helps me to know I feel a part of the team, I feel a part of the offense,” Owens said. “In the beginning, it was kind of a gray area.”
Owens was frustrated that his poor numbers prompted some critics to say he’d lost a step and that his skills were diminishing. To him, it was all about opportunities ... or the lack of them with Bledsoe under center.
“If you look at my involvement in the games, then it’s a different story,” Owens said. “Now it’s like I’m back to my old self.”
Having the old T.O. back could help open up things for everyone else — or at least everyone but Terry Glenn, the one player whose numbers might go down without his longtime pal Bledsoe locking in on him.
“If I can get involved, it opens up some other avenues for other guys to make big plays,” Owens said.
It only makes sense for Romo to look for No. 81, early and often. If you were a first-time NFL quarterback and you had one of the most prolific receivers in the NFL in the lineup, wouldn’t you throw the ball his way and let him make you look good?
“I’m pretty sure he could answer that better than I can,” Owens said, smiling at the theory. “Like I said, I just want to do whatever I can to make plays for him, just to get him comfortable. If we can do that, then that’s going help us down the road.”
A comparison could be made between Romo and Jeff Garcia, another unproven player who popped into the lineup, then made the Pro Bowl by making T.O. his primary target.
Could Romo do the same?
“Hey, that very well can happen,” Owens said. “If we get that string of wins together here, there will be a viable option for that.”
Asked more about the similarities between Romo and Garcia, Owens cut it off.
“There is no comparison,” he said. “Tony is my guy. I’m playing with Tony.”
So far, Romo would probably say the same thing about Owens.