We are now six years into Tony Romo’s career as a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and with just one playoff win in his career, Romo has been called many things. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, most of the things Romo is called center around one central thesis; that he’s a choker.
There are plenty of theories as to why Romo’s playoff record sits at 1-3, and why his win or go home record stands at 2-6, but those numbers are reality. Fair or not, the quarterback will get most of the blame when his team loses in key games during his career. It’s no coincidence that a QB is the only player on the field who gets a win-loss record attached to his name.
No one can change the past but looking back at Romo’s career, not every big loss should be thrust on his shoulders and if we look back to how the Cowboys were even in position to play in those ‘big games,’ it wouldn’t even be possible if Tony Romo didn’t put the team in that position in the first place. After all, there are only so many helmet catches, dropped passes, hail mary’s and miracle plays to go around in the history of the NFL and so far Romo’s luck hasn’t been that good.
I’m well aware I sound like a disgruntled Cowboys fan but where Eli Manning has had some of the greatest luck in football history and Joe Flacco tosses up a prayer for a miracle tie, one has to wonder why Tony Romo’s lacks the same fortuitous fate. Where is the dropped interception to allow Romo another chance to win a big game? Where has the Cowboys defense been able to pull their weight in big spots and why can’t Romo’s receivers catch the ball when he has put it right where it needs to be to make a big play?
These are all important questions because for all the so-called choking Romo has done, he’s had plenty of help from his teammates. Patrick Crayton dropped a huge pass in the 2007 playoffs and then stopped his route on a pass that would have won the game against the New York Giants with under a minute left to play, but you’ll never hear anyone call Crayton a choker. Instead you’ll hear about Romo’s vacation to Mexico the week before that game, something that had zero to do with his performance. In fact, the offensive line’s shaky play and a sprained ankle that hobbled Terrell Owens, had much more to do with that loss than Romo did.
It’s also pretty hard to blame Romo for everything that went wrong down the stretch in 2011 when the defense blew lead after lead for Romo and the offense. Romo had the Cowboys in perfect position to win those games in December last year, only to watch the defense give up leads and points at an alarming rate in the fourth quarter last season. Heck, even Jason Garrett and the coaching staff blew the chance to win against the Arizona Cardinals that year, yet the blame always comes back to Romo.
Don’t get me wrong, Romo does deserve some blame because he’s made some boneheaded decisions but it must be put in perspective. In the past four seasons, Romo touchdown to interception ratio in December/January, including playoff games, is 31-7. He has one of the top QB ratings in the history of the NFL during the fourth quarter and Romo sits in fifth on the all-time passer rating list with a number of 95.6. Clearly he’s not all bad and all the blame cannot be placed on his shoulders.
Yet in 2013, with a new season just over three months away, the labels still follow Romo. I’m not a huge Romo apologist and he does deserve some blame but let’s keep it in perspective. I also understand that the quarterback, especially on the Dallas Cowboys, will get the lion’s share of the blame. However, not everything that keeps the Cowboys from winning a Super Bowl is Romo’s fault.
There is no question that Romo has made some mistakes in big situations and they stand out the most but the Cowboys would be lost without Tony Romo. He just needs a little luck, and some help, to be a better clutch quarterback.