Jan. 14, 2008 -- Jessica Simpson has a look-alike, and a good one at that -- maybe even good enough to throw "America's team" off its game.
At first glance, the blonde bombshell in the stands during Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboy's, clad in oversize sunglasses and a replica Cowboys jersey emblazoned with a hot pink No. 9, was a dead ringer for Simpson.
But the blonde-haired beauty was actually Lynsey Nordstrom, a 21-year-old full-time nanny from Washington state who was planted in the third row behind the 50-yard-line by the New York Post. The Post hoped the pseudo-Simpson would distract Dallas' real No. 9, quarterback Tony Romo, who had a notably bad game earlier in the season while a similarly attired Simpson watched from the stands.
Romo also weathered heavy media criticism in the days leading up to the Giants game after the rumored romantic couple were photographed on vacation in Mexico last weekend while many fans thought he should have been preparing for the playoff run.
And the Post's plan may have worked -- the Giants beat Dallas 21-17, with Romo throwing a game-cinching interception in the closing seconds. With the loss, the top-seeded Cowboys fumbled their shot at the Super Bowl and increased speculation that Romo's romantic feelings for Simpson may have taken his eye off the ball.
"We just had fun with this," said Post reporter David Li, who contributed to the Post's front-page coverage of the story.
Li was reluctant to take much responsibility for the Giants' win, "but anything that played any kind of moderate distraction added to the fun of the atmosphere. As a former sports writer and a big football fan, I do think this was more about the [Cowboy's performance] than Jessica Simpson," he said.
Li told ABCNEWS.com that the idea to plant a fake Simpson was the brainchild of one of his editors, who after hearing that the real Simpson was not going to attend the game, came across lookalike Nordstrom's photograph on a sports blog.
"My editor thought it would be funny to provide our own Jessica Simpson and see if it would help our local team," said Li.
Post reporter Jennifer Fermino accompanied Simpson's double to the game, and told ABCNEWS.com that Nordstrom got a lot of double takes.
"As we walked to the stadium fans kept saying, 'Jessica, I thought you weren't coming' or 'Don't come, Jessica,'" said Fermino. "But by the end of the game I was surprised how many people were nice to her and were asking to take photographs with her."
Fermino added that she never saw Romo pay any attention to Nordstrom but did say other Cowboys' staffers seemed to notice. The Post declined to comment on how much Nordstrom was compensated for her appearance but did say that the trip to Dallas was paid for by the paper.
Is the Simpson Jinx for Real?
Quarterback Romo's relationship with Simpson -- notably the Mexico trip during the team's bye-week -- has been blamed during recent weeks for distracting the quarterback and affecting his performance.
In a now infamous display of affection, Simpson first showed off her Romo replica jersey to the media during a Dec. 16 Cowboys' game against the Philadelphia Eagles -- the same game in which Romo injured his thumb and played what analysts deemed as one of his worst games of the season.
But sports psychologists question whether the Simpson jinx is more than just typical superstition -- of which there is a great deal in professional sports.
"The first two games that [Simpson] was there Romo played great," said sports psychologist Jonathon Katz. "But because he did poorly and she was in the stands now everyone is saying it's her fault. It's not logical or rational -- people often look for a reason as to why people have performed [a certain way]."
Katz added that while he's not convinced Simpson was a jinx, she certainly was an unneeded distraction.
"It's less about superstition and it's more about a distraction," said Katz, who has been a consultant to many professional sports teams, including the New Jersey Nets and the Chicago White Sox. "Coaches will always tell athletes to do whatever they want to relax during a bye week, but when something becomes a distraction, it's a big problem for teams, especially toward the playoffs."
"It's not always what takes place that's the problem, but what happens as a result of it," said Katz, who added that the entire team was affected by the rumored relationship, fielding questions about their vacation plans rather than Dallas' game plan.
In a tearful press conference following Dallas' loss Sunday, Romo stood up for himself -- and his alleged new girlfriend.
"I don't live with regrets," Romo said. "I'm content in my own skin. If I try to be a good person and I'm strong enough in my faith, then I feel like I'm doing it the right way."