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Tony Romo enjoyed friendly rivalry with Eli Manning

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, and

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) talk on the field following their NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: Tony Gutierrez

Tony Romo said he rarely talked to opposing players during his career as the Cowboys’ starter, but one notable exception was Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

“The relationship with Eli has been one of my favorite relationships in the NFL,” Romo said Tuesday on a conference call announcing his move to CBS as the network’s lead NFL analyst. “I feel like there’s a friendly rivalry that extended off the field. Eli has been good for over a decade, and I had to play really good ball to beat him.”

Manning dominated Romo early in their rivalry, including a win in the 2007 NFC divisional round in Dallas that was part of the Giants’ Super Bowl playoff run. But Romo got the better of things late.

“Regardless of our teams around us — some years he had great defenses, other years, I had some really talented guys — usually we went back and forth and the games came down to the wire almost all the time,” he said. “I remember I was young going against Eli and these games are so tough. I just felt like I had to play perfect ball, because he was such a good player. Somewhere around 2010 or 2011, I decided I might as well just play ball and I’ll try and go win it at the end of the game. I probably beat him the last five games. You can tell him he got me early. I got him late.”

When reminded of the 2007 playoff loss, Romo cracked, “You had to add that.”

Romo said Manning “made me a better player. That’s a testament to how great of a player he is. He’s still going. I think he has some good years ahead of him. It will be fun to call some of his games.”

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