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WHO NEEDS T.O.? ROMO DOES NOT

Associated Press

TAMPA - Tony Romo and the Cowboys figure they will be fine without Terrell Owens. Sunday, it was easy to understand why.

Romo launched the post-T.O. era with a career-best 353 passing yards, including three long touchdowns that keyed a 34-21 victory over the Bucs.

"Career-high passing yards? Without T.O.?" receiver Roy Williams said, laughing before turning serious.

"It's good. It's good for him. It's good for this team. It was a team effort. Everybody contributed."

Miles Austin avoided two tacklers to score on a 42-yard catch just before halftime. Williams streaked through the secondary on a 66-yard touchdown early in the third. Later, Romo hit Patrick Crayton for the longest completion of his career, 80 yards, for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

"They are playmakers, and we knew that going in," coach Wade Phillips said. "But until you do it, the naysayers are going to say: 'Hey, you don't have this or that.' But I think we do."

Dallas' biggest offseason move was getting rid of Owens and making Williams the lead receiver, a role he's excited about after spending the first 5-1/2 years of his career in Detroit and struggling in Owens' shadow after being obtained at the trade deadline last season.

Romo completed his first two passes to the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, but they remained relatively quiet until the third-quarter catch that made it 20-7.

"(Williams) split the seam and made a real quarterback-friendly move for Tony," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "Tony saw exactly what Roy was seeing, and he was able to pull the trigger. A big receiver like that splitting the defense is exciting to see."

Romo, 8-1 in September, finished 16-of-27.

"You don't think about yards. You're not judged off of yards," said Romo, who has a franchise-record 17 300-yard games as well as eight touchdowns and no interceptions in two career games against Tampa Bay. "You're judged off of winning and losing at this position."

Romo completed passes to six receivers and connected on eight passes of 10 or more yards.

"There is no question we directed the ball to Owens during his three years here," Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.

"I think you saw the balance out there. It is Romo-friendly. It's good for Tony. It's great for our team. The good news is he can go to anyone. That is real friendly."

Information from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was used in this report.

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