Cowboys hold onto big lead, down Bucs

After a pair of late-game collapses, the Cowboys point lead against the Buccaneers Saturday night.

Dallas is alone atop the NFC East, at least until Sunday afternoon.

Tony Romo threw for three first-half touchdowns and ran for another score as Dallas earned a 31-15 victory, dealing Tampa Bay its eighth consecutive defeat.

More importantly, the Cowboys (8-6), who suffered heart-breaking losses against Arizona and the Giants the previous two weeks, are now a half-game ahead of New York for first place in the division.

The Cowboys will host Philadelphia next Sunday and then finish the regular season with a showdown on the road against the Giants in possibly a winner- take-all scenario for the division title. New York hosts Washington this Sunday before playing the Jets.

Romo, who hasn't been picked off in his last three games, completed 23-of-30 passes for 249 yards. Felix Jones rushed 22 times for 108 yards.

Josh Freeman went 17-of-27 for 148 yards with a TD for the Buccaneers (4-10), who haven't won since October 16, when they topped the Saints. This is their first eight-game skid in a single season since 1987.

Dekoda Watson returned a Romo fumble for a touchdown, but the Bucs couldn't climb the mountain after falling behind 28-0 at the half.