Notebook: Cowboys, Romo Riding High

Drew Brees has the New Orleans Saints undefeated. So does Peyton Manning with his Indianapolis Colts. But the hot streak Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are on comes as close as anyone can to measuring up to the league’s two unbeaten teams and their star signal callers. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 12


Drew Brees has the New Orleans Saints undefeated. So does Peyton Manning with his Indianapolis Colts.

But the hot streak Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are on comes as close as anyone can to measuring up to the league's two unbeaten teams and their star signal callers.

Dallas comes into Lambeau Field on Sunday having won four in a row, most recently a crucial 20-16 road win over NFC East rival Philadelphia to take over sole possession of first place in that division at 6-2. During the streak, Romo has posted impressive numbers, completing 83 of 133 passes (62.4 percent) for 1,225 yards with nine touchdowns and just one interception for a 111.9 passer rating.

It's the start of their winning streak that is perhaps most noteworthy, at least to Packers fans, who watched their team absorb a frustrating defeat last Sunday to a previously winless Tampa Bay team.

Back in Week 5, the Cowboys were 2-2 and heading to Kansas City to face an 0-4 Chiefs squad.

Bumbling their way through the first two-plus quarters with a missed field goal, two fumbles and a slew of penalties, the Cowboys fell behind 13-3 before pulling out a see-saw game in which they rallied to take the lead, allowed the Chiefs to tie it late, and then eventually won anyway, 26-20, in overtime.

"We had a couple things go against us turnover-wise, special teams was another one, that put us in a little hole early in that game, and we spent the rest of that game trying to get out of it," Romo said. "But I think the sign of a good team is the ability to still maintain your poise and keep grinding it out and eventually figuring out a way to get the win."

That win, as difficult as it was against a winless foe, seemed to provide the Cowboys a boost. Following their bye week, they came out and scored 75 points in big home wins over Atlanta and Seattle, and then they knocked off the Eagles on the road last week to run the winning streak to four.

The Packers, of course, didn't manage to pull out that road win against a struggling team, a loss that could have repercussions in the NFC playoff picture for the rest of the season. But the sub-par performance nonetheless can serve as the same type of wake-up call, even if the loss that resulted makes for a bigger hill to climb.

"We've put ourselves in that type of situation where every week is going to be a big game," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "Last week was a tough one, and we let one get away. We are where we are now, so every week is going to be a big one, starting with the Dallas Cowboys, who are really on fire now."

Possible redemption

If rookie T.J. Lang does get the start at right tackle this week - and it looks like he might after taking all the reps there in practice on Wednesday and the majority during the jog-through on Thursday even with Allen Barbre returning to practice from a slight concussion - he'll be looking to make up for an ugly cameo appearance at left tackle in Tampa last Sunday.

Spelling Chad Clifton for a series in the second quarter as part of a planned rotation, Lang false-started on the very first snap, putting the offense in a first-and-15. Then on second down, he allowed pressure around the edge that led to an incompletion.

After the series ended with a punt, Clifton played left tackle the rest of the way and Lang didn't get back in the game.

"That was tough, and I was really beating myself up for it," Lang said. "That's not how I want to play my game. That's not how I usually play. That was definitely a negative. But I beat myself up Monday after the game and that was kind of it. You move on and try to get better, try to fix it."

The fact that the coaching staff is turning to him again right away shows the confidence the coaches have in Lang, despite the poor brief outing. He played relatively well in two starts for Clifton at left tackle against Cleveland and Minnesota prior to that, but Lang knows the faith being shown in him now could dissipate if he doesn't clean up his game.

Lang said he has taken some pointers on switching positions and sides of the line from teammate Daryn Colledge, who has done the same thing in his four-year tenure with the team. But Lang considers those more mental obstacles and the physical part of the game is being as reliable as he can.

"I think there's been times I've been playing where I've shown I can do a pretty good job," Lang said. "They can have confidence in me to get out there and do my job. But I'm also learning a lot still, trying to be more consistent with what I'm doing. I know I can get out there and do my job; it's just a matter of doing it play after play."

Injury/participation update

In addition to Barbre, receiver Jordy Nelson (knee), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (feet) and Woodson (hip) were all upgraded from limited to full participants in Thursday's practice.

The rest of the Packers' injury report stayed the same, with receiver Jake Allen (quad), safety Derrick Martin (concussion) and fullback Korey Hall (calf) all full participants for the second straight day. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (ankle) remained limited, while linebackers Brandon Chillar (hand), Brady Poppinga (quad) and Aaron Kampman (concussion), tight end Jermichael Finley (knee), and tackle Mark Tauscher (knee) all sat out for the second straight day this week.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Poppinga has some unusual swelling in his leg, and whether or not he'll be able to return to practice on Friday will be determined in the morning. Rookie Brad Jones continued to get extensive work at outside linebacker with Kampman and Poppinga out.

Kampman has yet to be cleared to even work out in the weight room, McCarthy said, so his availability is in serious doubt. Tauscher is still considered a "longshot" for this week but McCarthy sees him being ready to return next week.

{sportsad300}For the Cowboys, center Andre Gurode (ankle) and safety Ken Hamlin (groin) were both limited participants in practice on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday.

The rest of the Dallas injury report remained the same. Running back Marion Barber (thumb), safety Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (foot) were full participants for the second straight day, while cornerback/returner Allen Rossum (hamstring) did not participate once again.

Frustrating memories

For Packers fans interested in re-living a pair of frustrating losses during the Dallas-Green Bay rivalry of the 1990s, NFL Network is airing two such broadcasts this week on its NFL Classic Games series, which features the complete network broadcasts with original announcers and graphics.

At 1 p.m. CT Friday, the 1995 NFC Championship Game will be shown. The Packers led that game 27-24 after three quarters but Emmitt Smith scored two of his three rushing touchdowns in the final period as the Cowboys emerged with a 38-27 victory to advance to their third Super Bowl in four years.

Then at 2 p.m. CT Saturday, the 1994 Thanksgiving Day game will air. The Cowboys overcame a deficit in this one as well, an 11-point hole. Backup quarterback Jason Garrett led Dallas to a team-record 36 second-half points, throwing for 311 yards and two scores, in a 42-31 decision. Brett Favre threw four touchdown passes, all to Sterling Sharpe, for the Packers.

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