Tony Romo has had elite-level statistical success in his career, but it will be his emergence as a consistent leader and winner which will make 2012 his best year yet.
However, it was Romo's poise and leadership that was the most encouraging in victory. He spurred the Cowboys to a win in a ruckus environment—a packed New Meadowlands Stadium on the night the Giants received their Super Bowl rings.
Romo was resilient too.
He threw a pick early in the game, but from that moment on he was near spotless. He completed 76 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 129.5, all the while hitting his wideouts accurately, whether it be on a short slant or a deep post.
He cut through the Giants defense with ease in the second half, and every time he had an opportunity to make a big play, he capitalized.
It happened on his 40-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree in the third quarter, and again with his pretty ball to Miles Austin in the fourth, which ended up being the game-winning touchdown.
Romo displayed a level of confidence and in-game decision making that has been infrequent in big contests throughout his career.
Those are two Intangibles that will resonate for him throughout the season.
The Giants were a huge hurdle for Dallas to clear, and now that they know they can beat the defending champions, Romo and the Cowboys should be set to seize the division crown.
Well, that statement may need to be tempered a bit.
The biggest knock on Romo, and the Cowboys to a certain extent, has always been the ability to perform in December and the postseason.
However, Romo has a long way to go if he wants to reach the playoffs. Dallas' schedule is brutal, with six games against the toughest division in football—the NFC East—plus match-ups with the AFC North, and the Falcons, Saints and Bears.
But Romo is prepared to lead his team through the minefield and reach the playoffs. He's one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL—he has the sixth highest completion percentage in NFL history—which will help him get the ball out to his weapons.
And boy, does he have weapons.
Dez Bryant and Miles Austin form one of the most potent wideout tandems in the league, and Ogletree emerged last game as a reliable third option. The ever-steady Jason Witten is still Romo's safety blanket, and James Hanna has the potential to be a dangerous pass catching TE to complement Witten.
But it's DeMarco Murray who will be Romo's biggest asset. Murray has shown every sign that he'll be a explosive back—he has 1028 yards in only 14 career games. Murray will force opposing defenses to put eight in the box, and Murray will burn them if they don't. Plus, Murray is a resource in the passing game, giving Romo a reliable dump-off target if his receivers fail to get open.
All of these options will benefit Romo, and combine that with Romo's natural ability and the numbers will be there. So, like always, it comes down to wins.
Romo is entering his sixth full year as a starter, and now it's time for him to produce in the playoffs. He hasn't done it yet, but this is the year he will do so.
The defense is a top-10 unit, there are enough weapons on offense to make North Korea happy and Romo is mature enough to finally get it done in the clutch.
Expect Dallas to find playoff success, and Romo to finally shed the mantra of being a QB who's incapable of success in December and January.