IRVING, Texas (AP) -When Tony Romo broke his pinkie, the Dallas Cowboys soon discovered a weakness that went far beyond bumbling backup quarterbacks.
Believe it or not, Romo's absence exposed the Dallas defense.
Throughout last season and the early part of this year, Cowboys defenders fell into the habit of being the supporting cast for Romo, Terrell Owens and crew. Knowing those guys would score in the 30s, the defense got comfortable trying to hold teams in the 20s. And they really liked how long their teammates held the ball because that meant fewer chances for them to give up points and fresher legs when they were on the field.
But then Romo went down and the defense was asked to do more to win games.
score of those games: Foes 69, Cowboys 28.
``We saw if we played like that every week, we don't have a chance,'' said linebacker Bradie James, a defensive co-captain. ``Everybody rallied around each other and just said, `Forget the call, stop the guy with the ball.'''
Clinton Portis and Frank Gore can attest to a new attitude. So can their quarterbacks.
Over the last two games, Dallas has allowed a total of 118 yards rushing and collected seven sacks, with five players getting in on the action. With Romo getting back in the groove despite wearing a splint on his passing hand, the Cowboys (7-4) carry a modest two-game winning streak into Thursday's game against Seattle (2-9).
Dallas' playoff chances might be riding on it, too.
The Cowboys would still be in the wild-card hunt, but imagine the ramifications of losing to a going-nowhere team like the Seahawks: 10 days of hearing how they're headed toward another disastrous December - Dallas hasn't had a winning record in the month since 2001 - followed by games against Pittsburgh, the Giants and Baltimore. That'll be a tough stretch even if the Cowboys beat Seattle and have the momentum of a three-game winning streak.
Linebacker Greg Ellis believes Dallas is ready to get on a roll after being humbled by their midseason struggles.
of (attitude) is gone. People realize we can be beat. We've got to show up and play good football. That is what's changed.''
Back when Dallas was a chic Super Bowl pick, Seattle also was considered among the NFC's best. That's probably why this game was chosen for the Thanksgiving showcase.
Injuries have turned Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren's farewell season into a lame-duck finish. They have their worst record since 1992 and in a four-game losing streak. The only solace is that the last three games were close.
Flying across country on short rest to face a team with a lot to prove has trouble written all over it. However, at least one Seattle player is riled up for this game: Julius Jones, the running back who started for Dallas ahead of Marion Barber all last season, until the playoffs.
Jones hoped to make the Cowboys regret losing him in free agency, but it's hardly worked out that way. He even lost his starting job to Maurice Morris last week, although Holmgren is restoring it this week because of how badly Jones wants to show off against the Cowboys.
``My first year there in Dallas (2004) things were a lot different for me. I had more opportunities and I made the best out of it,'' said Jones, who had 1,084 in his last full season before sharing carries with Barber. ``After that, opportunities started to decrease and here we are today. Come to your own conclusion.''
teams met was the 2006 playoffs, when Romo botched the hold of a short field goal and was tackled just shy of a first down and not far from a touchdown. Seattle won and Dallas coach Bill Parcells ended up leaving without winning a playoff game for the Cowboys.
Romo has overcome that flub to prove he's among the best in the NFL. Holmgren has seen the progress and has noticed similarities between Romo and Brett Favre, whom Holmgren coached in Green Bay when Romo was growing up in nearby Burlington, Wis.
``At his age and with what he's accomplished and the success he's had, it just breeds more success. I think he feels that,'' Holmgren said. ``The only thing I've alerted our guys to is he will take chances - not unlike another guy I coached a few years ago. You have to be prepared for the ball coming out at different angles, later than you might think, and you really have to play the entire play, because he's going to keep it alive.''

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