Tony Romo and 5 NFL QBs Who Choked Their Way Out of the Playoffs

Thomas GaliciaFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2012

Tony Romo and 5 NFL QBs Who Choked Their Way Out of the Playoffs

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    It's become a Week 17 tradition, where Tony Romo leads the Dallas Cowboys to the precipice of an NFC East title and a playoff berth, then finds a way to choke it away in the end.

    Once again there's doubt around Romo, with many Cowboys fans wondering whether he's worth the trouble. We're not going to talk about that, nor will we focus solely on Romo.

    Instead, we're going to look at his 2012 as well as some other players who found themselves choking their way out of an almost sure-fire playoff berth.

Ben Roethlisberger

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    Ironically for Ben Roethlisberger, his choke out of the playoffs included a massive choke job in Dallas, thanks in part to Tony Romo coming through in the clutch while Roethlisberger threw an overtime interception. 

    Roethlisberger was known as one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL prior to 2012, and why not? He already had two Super Bowl rings to his name and has led the Steelers to six playoff appearances and three Super Bowl appearances in his eight seasons in the NFL.

    But 2012 took a bad turn for Ben. The first bad turn came when he got hurt in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    That's obviously not his fault, stuff happens and you can't control it. The Steelers started to slide afterwards, losing their next two games before pulling out a victory in Baltimore with Charlie Batch behind center.

    Roethlisberger would come back the next week against the Chargers, and Pittsburgh would lose at home, starting off a three-game losing streak.

    During that time, Roethlisberger would throw four interceptions, including a crucial fourth-quarter interception against Cincinnati which led to a Bengals game-winning field goal and the end of the Steelers' season.

Jay Cutler

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    So the story goes like this: Chicago got eliminated when the Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Despite finishing 10-6, the Bears are on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

    But let's go back to the day the Bears really were eliminated from the playoffs: Dec. 9, otherwise known as Week 14 when the Bears lost 21-14 to the Minnesota Vikings.

    The loss would put the Vikings within one game of the Bears for the final playoff spot, and after the Bears lost to the Packers (while Minnesota ended the season on a four-game winning streak that started with this game), the two teams would finish the season tied for the final wild-card spot.

    Minnesota would get it due to having the better divisional record (they did beat the Packers once while sweeping the Lions and splitting with the Bears, Chicago had that pesky loss to Green Bay holding them back).

    However, had the Bears defeated the Vikings, Minnesota would've been eliminated that week with a 7-7 record and would've lost the tie-breaker to Chicago.

    How did Cutler choke that one away? While he did miss part of the game with an injury, he wasn't very good while in the game, throwing for 260 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw two interceptions, with one of them being returned by Harrison Smith for a touchdown.

    That third-quarter interception would lead to a 21-7 lead for Minnesota, who would win the game 21-14.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

Matt Schaub

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    I know Schaub and the Texans are actually in the playoffs; however, I don't see them getting past the hot Bengals in the Wild Card round this season.

    Houston's going into the playoffs way too cold for my liking, losing three out of their last four games. Each of their losses came against fellow playoff teams too, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for this team.

    Just remember that I put his name in here when the Texans lose to Cincinnati next week.

Eli Manning

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    This will likely fly under the radar, but the New York Giants really choked in 2012.

    Sure they beat the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, but unlike those teams, the Giants are on the outside looking into the playoffs. Despite having the same record that they had at the end of last season, there will not be a second consecutive Super Bowl run.

    Eli Manning is a major part of this. Against Atlanta and Baltimore, Manning would throw for 311 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

    That's in two games combined. Coming into the Atlanta-Baltimore portion of their schedule, the Giants were 8-5 and in the drivers' seat in the NFC East.

    After that they found themselves needing help they wouldn't get from Chicago and Minnesota on the final day of the regular season.

    It won't be talked about much this offseason, but this was a pretty big choke job by the defending Super Bowl champions.

Tony Romo

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    Finally, we get to the player who inspired this list.

    Romo's choke job came with the national audience on Sunday Night Football, and he looked terrible.

    The final numbers: 20-of-37, 218 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

    The final interception came in the fourth quarter with Dallas driving towards the lead. It's the one that will hurt the most.

    But his first two picks, despite not ending in Washington scores, were in Redskins territory, preventing two Dallas scores.

    You never want to leave points off the scoreboard; they will haunt you in the end.

    Granted, Romo doesn't play defense, and it's not up to him to stop the run game (which the Cowboys failed miserably at), but when he had the chance to bring Dallas back, he came up short.

    This will sting throughout the offseason.