For Cowboys fans, the easy win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night was more about the team doing what was needed and Tony Romo avoiding the dreaded December choke.

The Cowboys eased past the inept Bucs, 31-13, after racing out to a 28-0 lead.

There was no repeat of the embarrassing chokes of the previous weeks against Arizona and the New York Giants.

"It was a good win," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought we came out and played particularly well in the first half, and then I thought we managed the second half fairly well.

"We played with a purpose, and a lot of good things happened."

Romo was outstanding, completing 77 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He hit each of his top three wideouts - Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson, and Dez Bryant - for scores and also scored himself on a quarterback sneak, his first rushing TD of the season.

The guy who frequently fades in December has thrown eight touchdown passes with no interceptions in the first three games of this month. Romo also got Jason Witten involved in the offense again, hitting the tight end with four passes for 77 yards.

Romo mounted drives of 89, 69, 62, and 59 yards for those first-half scores. The Cowboys churned out 19 first downs in controlling the clock for 20 of the 30 minutes. That dominance sent a host of fans in Tampa Bay's first sellout of the season sprinting for the exits by halftime.

Felix Jones helped balance the offense. The running back stepped in for the injured DeMarco Murray and tied his career high with 22 carries for 108 yards.

"He's an awfully good football player," Garrett said. "We've been saying that for a while now."

The Cowboys defense has had its problems of late, as well. The 510 yards they gave up in the loss to the Giants to open last week still rings in their ears.

But Rob Ryan's group got its swagger back. Linebacker Anthony Spencer stripped quarterback Josh Freeman, and Bradie James recovered to set up the Cowboys' first touchdown drive. The Bucs scraped together only one first down and 55 yards in the first half and scored just one offensive touchdown for the evening.

"I thought our defense played really, really well," Garrett said. "I thought they came out and played really lights out in the first half."

The 'Boys raised their record to 8-6 and could clinch the NFC East title as early as Saturday, if they defeat the Eagles and the Giants fall at home to the New York Jets.

So what are the concerns moving forward?

Both the Eagles and Giants have far superior wide receivers to what Tampa Bay put on the field. Michael Vick is healthy again, and Eli Manning loves to light up the Cowboys. So just because Ryan's defense aced this test doesn't mean it's ready to pass the next two.

The Cowboys once again proved they can beat up on the bad teams. The Bucs became the seventh sub-.500 team to find a place in the Cowboys' win column this season, joining the Bills, Dolphins, Rams, Seahawks, and the Redskins twice.

The good teams on the 2011 schedule - the Giants, Jets, Lions, and Patriots - all torched the Cowboys defense in the fourth quarter for comeback victories.

Garrett can solve that problem as the season winds down by keeping his offense on the field as he did against the Bucs.

The Cowboys held onto the football on offense for more than 35 minutes Saturday night.

Control the ball the next two weeks against the Eagles and Giants, and the Cowboys will be postseason bound.