IRVING, Texas (AP) Tony Romo paused a few times trying to find the words to reflect on a season ruined by his twice-broken left collarbone and a series of injuries to star receiver Dez Bryant.
The silence said it all.
''It was just a disappointing year for everybody,'' Romo said.
The 35-year-old Dallas quarterback took a generally optimistic view Monday, a day after a 4-12, first-to-worst season ended with a 34-23 loss to Washington. The highlights from the veteran:
-Rehab work from his broken collarbone will give him a head start in the offseason, and he will be another year removed from back injuries that plagued him in 2013-14.
-The Cowboys should take a quarterback in the draft if the right one is there in the right spot, even though Romo also pointed out that he doesn't ''have to make those decisions and I'm glad.''
-Coach Jason Garrett showed he's the right man for the job by keeping the team motivated through a seven-game losing streak that covered Romo's absence from the first break of his collarbone.
Romo said motivation shouldn't be an issue after the biggest drop-off in wins in franchise history following an NFC East-winning 12-4 record in 2014. The reversal brought back the standard of mediocrity Dallas has set since 1997 - a 152-152 record covering 19 seasons. Not that it ever came up with the Cowboys eventually buried in the standings after the injuries to Romo and Bryant, but this was the 20th anniversary of Dallas' last trip to the Super Bowl following the 1995 season.
''When you don't play well or you don't play up to the standard of what you set, I think that it should burn inside of each guy really,'' Romo said. ''Our team obviously has got knocked down this year and without performing to expectations, like I said before, it's a very easy time to look at yourself and say, `I need to get better.' I think everybody on this football team needs to take that approach. And I think everybody will.''
Romo has endured three broken collarbones and three back injuries, two of which led to surgery. He played through broken ribs and a punctured lung four years ago. He had a broken finger on his throwing (right) hand in 2008.
None of which deters the married father of two.
''I know it sounds silly, but a broken bone is literally the one thing that heals,'' Romo said. ''I'll be a much healthier version going forward actually than I was the last couple of years as my back continues to strengthen and the bone will be healed.
''No one really likes or cares to hear that after you got hurt. But the reality of it is that I'll be much stronger moving stronger and having a base.''
Romo figures to be throwing to a healthy Bryant, who broke his foot in the opener and missed five games before coming back only to battle knee and ankle issues. The Cowboys shut down the 2014 All-Pro for the final two games, and he finished with career lows in all the receiving categories.
''I know he was disappointed, as were the rest of the guys on the team,'' Romo said. ''It obviously was a very ... just wasn't a great year.''
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