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Romo, Delhomme ready to square off

ARLINGTON, Texas — Cheer up, Tony Romo. Jake Delhomme knows exactly how it feels.

Those frustrating interceptions. All the griping fans. The support of teammates that you hope is sincere. A body of work that shows turnovers are just part of the deal, the downside of the go-for-broke style that lifted you from obscurity to Pro Bowler and multimillionaire.

Maybe they’ll talk about it Monday night, during warmups before Romo and the Dallas Cowboys play Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers.

Or maybe they don’t have to discuss it. Both have been around long enough to know the drill.

“When the good comes, it’s too good,” Delhomme said. “When the bad comes, hey, it’s bad.”

“It’s just a part of playing quarterback in the National Football League,” Romo said. “Everybody goes through it. If you haven’t, then you’re probably not a very good quarterback.”

Romo actually opened the season with a brilliant game against Tampa Bay, throwing for more yards than ever in what also happened to be his first game of the post-Terrell Owens era. There wasn’t much shelf life to that performance, however. In the spotlight of last weekend’s opener of Cowboys Stadium he threw three interceptions, each turning into a touchdown for the New York Giants on their way to a narrow, last-second field goal as time expired.

Delhomme’s season has gone the other way. He opened with his ugly outing, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in a wipeout loss to Philadelphia in the opener, then bounced back with a nice performance against Atlanta.

Well, the first 57 minutes were pretty good. But then he threw an interception near the end zone when the Panthers needed a touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the score. It was Delhomme’s fifth interception of the season, matching the five he had in a playoff loss that ended last season. Throw in a pair of lost fumbles over those games and his ugly totals are 12 turnovers in the last 12 quarters.

And that’s not even the worst numbers for Carolina.

After going 12-4 and winning the NFC South last season, the Panthers are in jeopardy of being 0-3 for the first time since 1998, when they started 0-7. While teams rebound from 0-2 to the playoffs pretty often, it rarely happens from 0-3.

No team has ever bounced back from that kind of start and made it to the Super Bowl. Carolina also will be heading into its bye week, another reason this result will be magnified, win or lose.

“We’re sitting here at 0-2, so we can all coach better and we can all play better,” Carolina coach John Fox said. “I’ve started 0-4 and won 11 of the next 12.”

For Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, the trip to Cowboys Stadium is a case of what might’ve been.

Peppers tried forcing a trade to Dallas over the summer, although it’s unclear how hard the Cowboys tried to make it happen. That was the defensive end’s main leverage in contract negotiations that resulted in a one-year deal, albeit for $16.7 million.

As the quarterbacks know, that kind of money — one-eighth of the salary cap spent on one-53rd of the roster — means expectations are equally out of whack. So having one sack in the opener and being relatively invisible against the Falcons is going to draw the kind of jeers Peppers has received lately.

TV Coverage

Carolina Panthers

vs. Dallas Cowboys

8:30 p.m., WNEP-TV

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