IRVING, Texas - The smile that was wiped off Tony Romo's face that night in Seattle is back. At some point, losing sleep over losing the infamous bobbled hold on a field goal in the NFC wild-card playoffs wasn't doing him any good.
At some point, moving on after the 21-20 loss made more sense than stewing in regret.
"[I got over it] after a while," the Cowboys quarterback said this week. "You go on and you get up and say, 'It's time to win some more football games.' After 10 years from now, we'll see how my career turns out."
When the Cowboys passed on selecting Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn in the first round of the draft last month, Romo felt better about the possibility of spending those next 10 years in Dallas.
Without Quinn, the Cowboys have never been more committed to Romo. And despite his no-one-could-have-guessed-it ascent and equally surprising descent last season, he is confident the Cowboys have found their quarterback.
"I think I'll be a better player next year," said Romo, who will join his teammates today in the first minicamp under coach Wade Phillips. "I feel like there probably isn't a lot I couldn't go through that I wouldn't be able to handle. I'd like to think where I'm at in my life, with my faith, I could handle anything that was thrown at me."
That includes drafting Quinn.
"It would be the Drew Henson thing all over again," Romo said. "You have to win the job, perform and be good. Either you're good enough or you're not. When I started [for the first time] in Carolina, I was able to go out and play. If I'm good enough, I'll play good. If not, I won't."
Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones believes in Romo. Nothing said that as much as when he passed on Quinn.
"I'm very realistic about myself and realistic with other people about their ability," Romo said. "And as a GM, you should always try to improve your team. If they felt somebody was better than me, it would be their job to bring that person in."
They don't believe Quinn was better than Romo. Not now. Not ever.
What they do believe is that Romo is closer to the Romo of his first six starts, who went 5-1 with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
They do not believe he is the Romo of his final five starts, who finished 1-4, with seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
There are those - some at Valley Ranch - who aren't so sure. They need to see more before they are sold on Romo being the heir to Troy Aikman, and not the heir to Gary Hogeboom.
Scouts and coaches love Romo's competitiveness, leadership, work ethic and guts. Then there are some people who have followed Romo and just want to see a little more before they buy.
But Jones does not evaluate Romo exclusively on his 11 starts in 2006. The evaluation is based on the four-year career of an undrafted player out of a Division I-AA school who beat out a hot prospect in Henson and a proven veteran in Drew Bledsoe.
"I feel that we've seen enough to make that type of decision. We didn't need to hedge our bet [with Quinn]," Jones said. "It was our decision, and I could have done that. I think that Tony is the way for us to go to get to the Super Bowl."
According to Jones, he's closer to giving Romo a contract extension before next year's draft than he is to thinking about today's top college quarterbacks. He did not say the contract could come before training camp for a player who is eligible to become a free agent at season's end, which could be construed as a slight hedge.