Wednesday's season opener made one thing very clear: Tony Romo has a new determination about him, and he is ready to take his team to the next level.
Romo passed for 309 yards, completing 22 of 29 throws. He added three touchdowns, two to WR Kevin Ogletree and one to a leaping WR Miles Austin. Although he threw one interception, Romo was easily good enough to ensure the Cowboys brought home the victory.
Now, it was only opening night, and there are many games to play. But Romo's first performance of the season means good things for his franchise.
The Cowboys play in a traditionally tough division, and this year is no different. The Giants are defending Super Bowl champs again, and the Eagles are stocked with young and explosive talent. Winning the NFC East will be no easy feat.
Yet Romo's start is a promising one, because it kicks off the 2012 campaign in style. The Cowboys needed a statement, something to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Offensively, the Cowboys overmatched the Giants. Ogletree and RB DeMarco Murray helped Romo hang tough against one of the NFL's better defensive lines. And the Cowboys' offensive attack was balanced, especially in the second half.
In 2012, Romo has excellent talent surrounding him when he marches his team out on the gridiron. Young wideout Dez Bryant looks as freakish as Terrell Owens in his prime and has much to learn.
Murray was able to successfully keep the Giants defense honest, allowing Romo time to pick apart the secondary. If the up-and-coming running back can continue this trend, Romo will achieve career bests in many passing categories this season.
Familiar TE Jason Witten did not contribute much to the Cowboys statistically, but he inspired the team by playing with a questionable spleen injury.
Miles Austin's late touchdown with six minutes remaining virtually sealed the deal for Romo and Co. on opening night.
The Cowboys are dependent on Romo to lead them through the tough challenges that inevitably lie ahead. He cannot do it alone.
The responsibility for the Cowboys' successes and failures in 2012 will fall mostly on the star quarterback's shoulders. Romo is constantly in the limelight and being scrutinized for every little detail. The amount of attention that he receives (even if it's mostly due to his inability thus far to win big games) is a signifier that he is one of the NFL's most highly-touted quarterbacks.
The drama surrounding him and the Cowboys has, to this point, outweighed his talents as an NFL athlete. But Dallas proved Wednesday that its QB will have more than his own talent to stand on.
This season, Romo has the look of a leader who is a bit more in tune with what it takes to help his team be successful. After a sensational opening night performance, Romo appears to be guiding his team with a steady hand.