ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo was satisfied even after being sacked four times and turning the ball over three times in the Dallas Cowboys' home opener.
With a suffocating defense and finally having some short scoring drives, the Cowboys won 16-10 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday despite again being far from perfect and still unsure of their real identity.
"To win this game, with the way our defense played, and grind it out," Romo said. "This is a very, very satisfying win, even though it will kind of get lost in the shuffle as you move into the season. ... These are the kind of wins you have to have."
The Cowboys (2-1) will take them any way they can get them, especially after winning at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants before a 20-point loss at Seattle.
"Ugly is good if we win," said Sean Lee, whose interception set up the Cowboys at the Tampa Bay 23 in the first quarter for their only touchdown drive.
Dallas scored twice before halftime when starting in Tampa Bay territory and overcame the miscues by Romo, two on reversed calls that became fumbles. The Cowboys allowed the Bucs (1-2) only 166 total yards — 70 of those coming on their last drive before a failed onside kick attempt in the final 40 seconds.
Romo and the Cowboys didn't even mind going into victory formation and having to take a couple of extra kneel-downs against the Bucs, who a week earlier made a big push against the New York Giants in a similar situation that raised the ire of coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning.
On Sunday, players from both sides were shaking hands both times new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano called timeouts. The sidelines were emptying with 4 seconds left when there was an offside penalty called, though that ended the game.
"We need to stop being known for the kneel-down play," Schiano said. "We need to be known for winning football games."
Romo was unscathed on the extra snaps after the timeouts. The Cowboys were obviously prepared for the kind of game-ending plays that Schiano said would remain in his playbook, and had worked when he coached at Rutgers.
Schiano and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett cordially spoke at midfield after the game.
DeMarco Murray had an 11-yard TD run and Dan Bailey kicked field goals of 32, 26 and 22 yards for the Cowboys.
But Dallas had 13 penalties for 105 yards, including four against right tackle Doug Free (three false starts and a holding call). There were also more dropped passes, including a likely touchdown off the fingers of Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten running alone on the final play of the third quarter.
"The big thing is we won one, even though there were a lot of things that could cause you to lose one," owner Jerry Jones said. "Romo told me that was a Pittsburgh game out there, not looking pretty but finding a way to get a win. The defense bailed us out."