Timekilling NFL Lockout Discussion: Is Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo an Elite QB?
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There is no question that Tony Romo has been the best Dallas quarterback since Troy Aikman called it a career. Despite the Cowboys' best efforts to become a ground-and-pound, run-heavy scheme, the past few seasons has seen its offense lean hard on Romo's throwing arm while trying to appease Jerry's high profile wide receivers. For leading such a pass-happy offense, Tony Romo deserves a great deal of credit.
Likely the most debated topic of the Dallas Cowboys franchise in the past five years has been whether or not Tony Romo is the quarterback that can/will lead them back to Super Bowl Champion status. In other words, is Romo an elite player at his position? Super Bowls can be won on the backs of stellar defensive units, but more often than not, it is the elite quarterback that needs to shine in the most critical of situations in order for a team to win a championship.
Thus, we place Tony Romo under the microscope. Since entering the NFL, the undrafted Romo has to have surpassed his own wildest expectations with the career he's had to date. However, the question remains: does he belong among the league's elite?
Perennially among the league's passing leaders, Romo's statistics can be stacked against those of sure-fire elite quarterbacks (Manning, Brees, et al) with almost surprising comparability. Yet, fierce skepticism remains regarding Romo's belonging.
Tony Romo has the stats of an elite quarterback, but there is a difference between Pro Bowlers and champions. No one can doubt that putting up great numbers AND winning "big" games qualifies a quarterback as elite. For further examination, the following is a breakdown of how Romo has fared in the Cowboys' biggest games of his era.
2006 Season Wild Card Round: Dallas at Seattle
Romo fumbles away playoff win.
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Romo: 17/29, 189 YDs, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
Result: Seattle 21, Dallas 20.
In his first playoff game in his first season as a starter, Tony Romo almost led a game winning drive. Unfortunately, victory literally slipped through his hands. To this day, the dropped snap for the would-be game-winning field goal is Exhibit A for those doubting Romo.
2007 Season Divisional Round: New York Giants at Dallas
Dallas falls to the eventual Superbowl-winning Giants
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Romo: 18/36, 201 YDs, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Result: Giants 21, Dallas 17.
The Cowboys were looking to defeat same Giants team that Dallas beat twice before earlier in the season. In a home playoff game Dallas was supposed to win, Romo gives a solid (perhaps), yet underwhelming performance against a Superbowl-winning defense.
2008 Regular Season Finale: Dallas at Philadelphia
Romo as the wheels fall off the '08 season.
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Romo: 21/39, 183 YDs, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 2 Lost Fumbles.
Result: Philadelphia 44, Dallas 6.
In this win-and-in de facto playoff game, Romo and the Cowboys had the opportunity to earn their way into the tournament against the blood rival Eagles. This was an embarrassing effort for many (if not all) Cowboys in uniform, but Romo's fly ball pick and sack-fumble both led to Philly touchdowns.
2009 Season Wild Card Round: Philadelphia at Dallas
Romo leads Dallas to first playoff win since 1996.
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Romo: 23/35, 244 YDs, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
Result: Dallas 34, Philadelphia 14.
Romo follows up a redemptive shutout win over the Eagles with the most impressive win of his career. Almost makes up for the 44-6 loss the season before. Almost.
2009 Season Divisional Round: Dallas at Minnesota
Vikings thoroughly dominate Cowboys.
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Romo: 22/35, 198 YDs, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 2 Lost Fumbles.
Result: Minnesota 34, Dallas 3.
While Minnesota, unquestionably the better team, exposed Dallas's weaknesses, Tony Romo reverted back to a nervous quarterback when the Vikes applied pressure.
2010 Season: Add Injury to Insult
The 2010 season in a word: Disaster.
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Romo/Result: 11 TDs, 7 INTs leading Dallas to a 1-5 record before a broken clavicle ended his season.
While it's difficult to refer to big games in a 6-10 season of which he only played in the first six, losses to Tennessee and Minnesota in consecutive weeks were marked by 5 Romo INTs and dropped Dallas to 1-4.
Tony Romo: The Verdict
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Even if you discount the 2010 losses, Romo is 1-4 in his biggest games, which doesn't bode well for the "Romo is Elite" claims.
Stat monster? Yes.
Top 10 QB? Arguable.
Elite? Not based on his résumé thus far. I'd say he's got two-three more seasons to prove the naysayers otherwise.