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Romo's 2-0. I'm 17-14. Jessica, call me.

Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008

Tony Romo and I have at least one thing in common.

No, I never dated Jessica Simpson, at least in this life, and I can't sling a pigskin 70 yards downfield.

I did, however, grow up a Brett Favre fan, as did Romo.

Raised in Wisconsin, 150 miles from Green Bay, the new Tom Brady admittedly rooted for Favre and the Packers, although he stepped inside Lambeau Field as a fan only twice.

He also never sported a Cheesehead.

I guess we have two things in common.

Actually, make that three.

Romo has never played at Lambeau Field. And neither have I -- at least not yet.

When the Dallas Cowboys quarterback makes his first start on the Frozen Tundra on Sunday night, he'll be trying to vindicate more than his own play, something he's nearly done already in leading the NFC favorite Cowboys to a 2-0 start to open the season.

More importantly, though, is whether or not he can shake the Cowboys mark of futility at Lambeau.

While they own a 15-12 edge in the all-time series, including a 37-27 victory in Dallas a year ago, the Cowboys are a bewildering 0-5 at Lambeau Field.

Heading home, Romo will try to buck that trend.

"It was a neat atmosphere," Romo said of attending games. "It was enjoyable to get up there."

It might not be so pleasant this time around.

Despite the conspicuous absence of Favre, the Packers -- who as underdogs by three, are the only home team not favored this week -- enter this showdown with an unblemished mark as well, thanks predominantly to the stellar play of Favre's less-than-heralded successor.

Aaron Rodgers, who by now everyone knows as Favre's replacement and little else, is writing his own legacy up north.

Granted, we're only two weeks into the season and Rodgers has gone up against a lousy Vikings pass defense and a Lions defensive unit that couldn't stop the struggling New York Yankees.

Nonetheless, Rodgers numbers (42-of-60, 506 yards, four TDs, no interceptions) are still compelling.

In fact, his previous professional highlight occurred in last season's Week 13 loss to the Cowboys, when both 10-1 teams clashed in the Lone Star State and Rodgers inherited the ball from an injured Favre, nearly leading the Packers to a comeback victory.

"I think last year, he was going to be a good quarterback," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "And this year, he is."

Rodgers, who's also rushed for a TD this season, took over for Favre that Thursday night and completed 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown before a diminutive audience, as the game was aired primarily on the NFL Network.

Now the entire country gets to see what both guys are made of.

And they still have a lot to prove.

Rodgers, ruthlessly scrutinized by fans and media as being nothing more than an average replacement to the beloved No. 4, has clearly coped with his pending success, saying and doing all the right things.

Romo also seems content with himself off the field, canoodling with Simpson, starring in commercials and calmly deflecting questions about his personal life.

On the field, though, it's a different story.

He's clearly the top quarterback in the league, having completed 45-of-62 passes for 632 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions. But Romo struggles most when all eyes are on him.

Perhaps that's why he had one of his best games of the season against the Packers last year, throwing for 309 yards and four scores when probably half of the regular audience was tuning in.

And by now, it's no secret his cool demeanor overheats on the national stage.

His penchant for caving under pressure revealed itself as far back as 2006, when his botched hold on a late field goal in a playoff game against Seattle cost Dallas a victory. It reared its ugly head again during a second-round loss to the Giants last year, when he completed only 50 percent of his passes for 201 yards, and most recently again on Monday night versus the Eagles, when he twice fumbled the ball in the end zone, handing Philadelphia an easier score than John McCain choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate.

But hey, the guy can change a tire, evidenced by his heroic handiwork last week when he pulled over and aided a stranded couple with a flat.

So, I guess we have more in common than I previously thought.

"I take my job and take what I do in football very serious, but I don't take myself that serious," Romo said. "I don't think I'm that important of an individual. I think I'm blessed with the ability to play a game and I think that I'm doing some good things in that. But I also think outside of that, it's not as if I'm someone who is changing the landscape of anything that's of a relevance that's really super-important in this world."

Favre was larger than life in Green Bay.

And he went 0-9 in Dallas.

Get used to it, Tony.

PACKERS, 31-28.

Kansas City (plus 5 1/2) at Atlanta

Chiefs have lost 11 straight games. Even Atlanta looks tough to them. FALCONS, 28-14.

Arizona (plus 3) at Washington

Kurt Warner has as much success in Washington as McCain will.

REDSKINS, 24-17.

Houston (plus 5) at Tennessee

Ike can slow down Houston. Tennessee can't. TEXANS, 20-17.

Oakland (plus 10 1/2) at Buffalo

Hopefully, Lane Kiffin gets Monday's paper. He'll need the classifieds. BILLS, 38-20.

Cincinnati (plus 14) at N.Y. Giants

Marvin Lewis will, too.

GIANTS, 33-20.

Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Chicago

Orton hears a boo.

BUCCANEERS, 16-7.

Carolina (plus 3) at Minnesota

Panthers benefit from the return of Steve Smith ... and an injury to Adrian Peterson.

PANTHERS, 24-10.

Miami (plus 14) at New England

New England's last regular-season loss came at Miami on Dec. 10, 2006, a span of 21 straight wins. Make that 22. PATRIOTS, 30-10.

New Orleans (plus 5) at Denver

The Broncos may still have their sketchy replay equipment, but referee Ed Hochuli won't be there to save them this week. SAINTS, 35-31.

Detroit (plus 4) at San Francisco

Lions wish they still had Mike Martz running the offense.

49ERS, 28-13.

St. Louis (plus 10 1/2) at Seattle

One of Seattle's five wins on the season. SEAHAWKS, 37-18.

Cleveland (plus 1) at Baltimore

Browns seeking third straight victory versus their former selves. BROWNS, 24-17.

Pittsburgh (plus 3) at Philadelphia

McCain and Obama aren't the only ones battling for Pennsylvania. EAGLES, 22-17.

Jacksonville (plus 5) at Indianapolis

Indy nabs first win in Lucas Oil Stadium. COLTS, 31-24.

Monday

N.Y. Jets (plus 10) at Chargers

Favre is 5-0 against San Diego. Can't bet against that. JETS, 24-23.

LAST WEEK: 9-5-1 (spread); 9-6 (straight up)

SEASON: 15-15-1 (spread); 17-14 (straight up)

Comments and criticisms may be sent to Clarion sports reporter Matthew Carroll at matthew.carroll@peninsulaclarion.com.



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