Last week, Elliot Harrison wrote an article for NFL.com about the most overrated and underrated players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. (NFL.com did this for every team in the league.) In the article, Harrison lists Tony Romo as one of the most UNDERRATED players in the team’s history. (This was surprising to even a Romo-Loving Cowboys fan like me.) And predictably, it started yet another firestorm regarding the most polarizing player in the NFL today. So while the embers are still hot, here’s my argument against those who claim that Romo is an overrated QB who can’t win the big game.
My criteria is Romo’s QB performance in “elimination games”. These are either playoff games, or games in which a trip to the playoffs is on the line. Let’s start with Romo’s very first, and most infamous playoff appearance…
2006 - The bobbled snap against
2007 - The divisional playoff game against the Giants. With less than a minute left in the game, on 3rd down, Romo threw a perfect pass to Patrick Crayon – which Crayton dropped. Had he caught the ball, he might’ve ran in for the score, or at least gained big yardage and a 1st down. (Reminds me of the pass from Tom Brady that Wes Welker dropped in the Superbowl. Except that the pass from Romo was a much easier catch.) Instead, Romo was left with :16 seconds left, at the Giants 23 yard line, with no timeouts lefts. On 4th down, with time running out, and no receivers open, Romo threw a desperation pass to the endzone which was picked off. That wasn’t a choke job.It wasn’t a poor decision. It was QB trying to make something out of nothing, with nothing left to lose.
2008 - The “win and you’re in” meltdown against Philly in week 17. It was simple – whoever wins the game advances to the playoffs. The result was the worst Dallas Cowboys performance since… I don’t even know when.
2009 – It was another week 17 “win and you’re in” rematch against the Eagles.
2010 – Wade Phillips “lost” the team, and the Cowboys were terrible. Romo got injured in the week 7 match-up against the Giants, and was out for the year. Romo only played 5 full games in 2010. No big games that year for anybody to win or lose.
2011 – (Not an “elimination” game) With a 5 point lead against the Giants, and only 2:25 left in the game, Romo over-threw Miles Austin on a third down play that would’ve sealed a victory. However, this was the first game back for Miles Austin, who had just returned from a hamstring injury. Is there any chance Romo threw to where a completely healthy
2011 – Week 17 against the Giants, another “win and you’re in” game. The
But with the score 24-14, and to play, Felix Jones dropped a third down pass that could easily have kept the Cowboys comeback alive. Instead, the defense continued to give up points, and the Cowboys lost 31-14. Another case in which the loss was not on Romo.
2012 – Yet ANOTHER week 17 “win and you’re in” game, this time against the Redskins. Although I’d like to blame the loss on the terrible
Wanna blame the Redskins game on him? Fine. Wanna hate him because he bobbled
Now with all that being said, I’m not claiming Tony Romo is going to retire with as many rings as Tom Brady, Joe Montana, or Terry Bradshaw. And I’m not suggesting that he’s going to win multiple Super Bowls for the Cowboys like Troy Aikman did. But it’s not crazy to suggest that Romo, if surrounded by equally talented players and coaches, still has the chance to win as many Super Bowls as Bret Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Joe Flacco. Who knows? Maybe even as many as Rodger Staubach, John Elway, Ben Roethlisberger, or Eli Manning.