Tony Romo: Temporary Redemption
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 20, 2011
By Scott KacsmarCold, Hard Football Facts punctured lung in the chest of "pundits"
After week one, Tony Romo was the talk of the NFL, with everyone getting their shots in on his performance in the fourth quarter against the Jets. He was compared to LeBron James in the clutch. The revisionist history of his track record in close games read: Romo always chokes.
When Kordell Stewart is getting on your case for falling short “every single time” you have a chance, then something must be wrong. Kordell knows a thing or two about falling short in big moments.
Of course, perception is often not reality. Instead of selectively remembering which games a quarterback lost, the Cold, Hard Football Facts looked at every game in Romo’s career where he had possession of the ball in the fourth quarter/overtime with the score tied or down by 1-8 points.
The results: Romo had a 10-18 (.357) record, which is hardly any worse than former Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman (21-35), or other statistical media darlings such as Aaron Rodgers (5-18) and Philip Rivers (16-23). If Romo can’t win close games, neither can they.
Then week two came along, and Romo again was in the spotlight, or crosshairs depending on your preference.
While Philip Rivers was in the process of supplying big men with footballs in New England, dropping to 0-5 against Tom Brady’s Patriots in big AFC games, Romo was knocked out of the game in San Francisco with a fractured rib.
Jon Kitna struggled in Romo’s absence (two INTs). However, Romo would return late in the third quarter with Dallas trailing 21-14. The deficit would grow to 24-14, and that’s when an ailing Romo needed to come through.
This time he did. Romo converted a 4th and 5 to Jason Witten, before hitting Miles Austin for a 25-yard touchdown pass. With just over four minutes left, Romo got the ball back and moved it down the field to set up the 47-yard game-tying field goal that forced overtime.
On his first snap of overtime, Romo completed a pass down the middle of the field to new receiver Jesse Holley for a 77-yard gain down to the one-yard line. The Cowboys kicked the winning field goal on first down, and Romo completed the 10th fourth quarter comeback and 11th game-winning drive of his career.
Romo passed for 345 yards in the game and had no turnovers. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Romo was 12/15 for 201 yards and a touchdown.
Here is the table we ran last week, updated through Week 2.
Three Big-Name QBs in Close Fourth-Quarter Situations
Just as Romo’s INT% was barely the highest a week ago, it’s now just a play away from being the lowest. It does not take much to make these numbers rise and fall given the number of attempts. The point remains that Romo is not significantly more turnover prone than these other top quarterbacks when the game is tied or one score deficit in the fourth quarter.
The following day we learned that not only did Romo play with a fractured rib, but he also punctured a lung. It’s the kind of gutsy performance that quarterbacks such as Brett Favre are revered for. This is a way to build up a legacy, but when it comes to Romo, the question will be how long until this game is forgotten by most.
The Cowboys host the 2-0 Redskins on Monday Night Football next week. If Romo is even able to start, he will be expected to win on the primetime stage. Another close loss and things will be right back to where they were in week one: the pigskin "pundits" ready to brand Romo a choker, while the Cold, Hard Football Facts will be ready to tell them to shut the fact up.
Read more: Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Dallas Cowboys, Fourth Quarter Comebacks, Game-Winning Drives, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, NFL, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Troy Aikman
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