Things They Don't Tell You On ESPN: Tony Romo Rocks December

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to public opinion, Tony Romo's December performance has been outstanding over the last few years. As the Cowboys battle for the division title this December, the question really is about whether the rest of the Cowboys can play up to Romo's standards down the stretch.

In the middle of the fourth quarter of the game against the Raiders, prompted by the cover shot of the latest Sports Illustrated issue, announcer Phil Simms let loose with a valiant defense of Tony Romo.

You can't deny what you see on the football field all the time: his outstanding play and really, his ability. We talked to Tony Romo about why so many people are on him and why he's constantly criticized, and he goes: "Look, I understand it. Until I win the Super Bowl, I'm always going to have those questions and criticisms."

But you know, Jim, to make the story bigger, we embellish too much. The media - and we're part of it - everybody's playoff record comes out there. Well, Tony Romo has a new category I've never heard [applied to] any other quarterback but him: Elimination games. Because they want to make it more, make it look worse.

Elimination games? What are those?! Let's make up a new stat so you can make it look worse!

Well, now that Simms has cleaned up with elimination games, let's look at another persistent storyline that is often used when there is a need to write something about the Cowboys: The December Swoon.

If you're a Cowboys fan, you're very familiar with that particular storyline. As soon as the calendar turns to December, everybody starts talking about how the Cowboys are about to collapse. More specifically, how the Cowboys' high profile quarterback is expected to collapse come December. By now, you'll know that Tony Romo owns November but has struggled in December - or so you may have been led to believe.

It is true that Tony Romo has done exceptionally well in November. Over his career, he has accumulated a 24-5 record and a 105.5 passer rating in November. But December is a different story, right? Romo's December record is 11-15, and the Cowboys famously struggled to win games in the final month of the season. But did you know Tony Romo has thrown 27 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions in 13 December games he started in since 2009?

In fact, over those 13 games (which includes the 2011 game against the Eagles in which he threw just two passes before injuring his throwing hand) Romo has thrown for 3,654 yards on 302-for-454 passing (66.5%) for a passer rating of 106.3 for December from 2009-2012.

Want to know how that compares to the other QBs across the league? Here you go:

December Passer Rating 2009-2012, min. 200 pass attempts
QB Passer Rating CMP ATT Yds CMP% YPA TD INT
Aaron Rodgers 109.0 335 526 4,436 63.7% 8.4 37 6
Tony Romo 106.3 302 454 3,654 66.5% 8.0 27 5
Drew Brees 106.0 475 675 5,275 70.4% 7.8 42 13
Philip Rivers 101.5 349 538 4,272 64.9% 7.9 31 9
Tom Brady 100.7 378 602 4,722 62.8% 7.8 37 10
Peyton Manning 99.9 310 456 3,481 68.0% 7.6 29 13
Cam Newton 95.9 147 257 1,968 57.2% 7.7 16 4
Matt Ryan 93.7 312 519 3,469 60.1% 6.7 30 7
Jason Campbell 92.4 166 260 1,954 63.8% 7.5 12 6
Ben Roethlisberger 91.4 301 503 4,100 59.8% 8.2 22 11
Michael Vick 90.7 154 260 2,129 59.2% 8.2 14 8
Joe Flacco 89.6 271 466 3,252 58.2% 7.0 29 12
Matt Schaub 89.5 312 488 3,743 63.9% 7.7 17 11
Eli Manning 87.4 327 562 4,421 58.2% 7.9 33 21
Carson Palmer 86.7 315 493 3,633 63.9% 7.4 21 16
Matthew Stafford 86.4 259 426 3,080 60.8% 7.2 17 10
Alex Smith 83.5 200 337 2,222 59.3% 6.6 12 6
Jay Cutler 80.9 202 364 2,545 55.5% 7.0 20 13
Kyle Orton 76.5 162 278 1,806 58.3% 6.5 9 8
Christian Ponder 75.8 134 236 1,433 56.8% 6.1 12 9
Andy Dalton 75.5 152 263 1,557 57.8% 5.9 8 6
Sam Bradford 72.4 215 372 2,339 57.8% 6.3 8 10
Ryan Fitzpatrick 71.9 276 482 3,153 57.3% 6.5 15 18
Rex Grossman 71.5 126 234 1,479 53.8% 6.3 10 9
Matt Cassel 70.2 136 243 1,513 56.0% 6.2 8 9
Josh Freeman 69.4 318 559 3,732 56.9% 6.7 18 25
Chad Henne 67.1 309 532 3,263 58.1% 6.1 12 21
Matt Hasselbeck 63.8 224 357 2,265 62.7% 6.3 8 21
John Skelton 63.2 127 241 1,536 52.7% 6.4 7 11
Mark Sanchez 59.6 243 450 2,553 54.0% 5.7 10 20

Tony Romo ranks at the very top of the league in December passer rating over the last four years. That's indisputable. Unfortunately, the December meme is such a convenient storyline many pundits and fans alike have taken it at face value without giving the matter further thought. But a closer look at the stats shows that as good as Romo has been in November, Romo rocks December.

Yet as good as Romo has been, the Cowboys only managed a paltry 6-7 record in the 13 December games Romo started in from 2009-2012. That's not good. And it's also a clear illustration that as good as your QB may be, football is still a team game.

The Cowboys have four more games to play in December this year. They will play those games with a QB who has outperformed almost every other NFL QB down the stretch over the last four years - and that includes future HoF locks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But will it be enough?

Can and will the rest of the Cowboys play up to Romo's standards?

Star_medium

And because there are bound to be questions about some other QBs not listed in the table above, here are some more December records, this time for QBs who had between 100 and 200 pass attempts in December between 2009 and 2012 (and are still on an NFL roster).

December Passer Rating 2009-2012, 100-200 pass attempts
QB Passer Rating CMP ATT Yds CMP% YPA TD INT
Russell Wilson 115.2 74 113 1,067 65.5% 9.4 9 2
Matt Moore 100.6 115 199 1,583 57.8% 8.0 14 3
Colin Kaepernick 94.9 88 146 1,134 60.3% 7.8 7 2
Nick Foles 87.3 102 166 1,157 61.4% 7.0 5 2
Dan Orlovsky 85.0 85 139 866 61.2% 6.2 5 2
Tarvaris Jackson 84.6 98 159 1,109 61.6% 7.0 6 4
Ryan Tannehill 83.2 85 150 921 56.7% 6.1 5 1
T.J. Yates 79.4 72 120 847 60.0% 7.1 3 3
Kerry Collins 79.3 81 151 1,039 53.6% 6.9 8 5
Brandon Weeden 78.1 75 120 929 62.5% 7.7 2 4
Andrew Luck 75.8 84 178 1,169 47.2% 6.6 10 5
Jake Locker 70.3 102 192 1,402 53.1% 7.3 5 7
Vince Young 68.7 69 128 906 53.9% 7.1 7 8
Blaine Gabbert 68.5 71 130 751 54.6% 5.8 5 5
Brady Quinn 66.9 105 195 1,134 53.8% 5.8 5 6
Colt McCoy 65.7 78 141 872 55.3% 6.2 4 6
Drew Stanton 62.7 70 123 749 56.9% 6.1 3 6
Jimmy Clausen 59.1 55 100 489 55.0% 4.9 1 3
Ryan Lindley 46.5 49 99 376 49.5% 3.8 0 3

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker