SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys gestures against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Is Tony Romo trying to get a head start in working the referees who will call Sunday's game between his Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos?
The Cowboys quarterback on Wednesday offered perhaps a back-handed compliment to the Broncos' secondary when he said Denver's defensive backs "do a great job with their hands."
"They grab, they hold, they've almost put a lot of pressure on the refs - whether or not they're going to call the game close or not," Romo said on a conference call with reporters in Denver. "If they get called once or twice, that's a good thing. But they're all over guys as far as using the little tricks, I guess you could say, that good linebackers and good secondaries use when they're playing man coverage."
Romo said he didn't think the Broncos had been "exposed with a lot of penalties."
Denver's defensive backs would probably disagree.
The Broncos have been called for defensive pass interference five times, for defensive holding four times and for illegal contact one time. Seven of those flags came in a Week 2 win against the Giants.
Third cornerback Tony Carter, who lines up outside when the team is in its nickel package, has three of the pass interference flags and two of the holding calls. Starting corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has the other two pass interference flags.
What it all could mean is a physical game between the Broncos' defensive backs and Dallas' wide receivers, especially Dez Bryant, who has been penalized once this season for offensive pass interference.
"To me, that's going to be tough sledding for a lot of teams, when you play against teams who are going to be that physical outside," Romo said. "I think we'll try to do some things to help combat that."
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)