With all of the discussion around Tony Romo and his clutchness/choking I thought it would be fair to do a similar take on the Defense. How well have they performed in the clutch? You can probably guess by the title.
I decided to look at TD's allowed when Dallas has a close lead or tied (7pts or less) late in the game. I only used drives that started in the opposing team's territory to make sure that they had a reasonable chance of stopping a TD.
Dallas tops the list in a bad way.
I chose 3 minutes because that's what we saw in a recent Romo discussion. But what happens if we tighten the window further? Let's look at 1 minute. This is obviously leaves the offense in a tough situation (assuming time hasn't actually expired).
Once again, Dallas tops the list in a bad way.
This of course leads me to wonder if this is why Romo has so many more come from behind victories. Yes, he has some chops and some good skill players around him, but this looks like he's also been in tough situations more often than most QB's. He certainly hasn't been able to rely on the defense late in the game.
Let's look at positive plays. What if the defense gave the offense a gift wrapped turnover late in a close game (within 7pts)? I'm gonna skip the fancy chart this time, but Dallas is tied for 8th worst at 8 TO's in the last 3 minutes. Not the worst in the league, but solidly below average. How about 4th down stops late in close games? More or less average at 16th over Romo's career. (interestingly, the top five in this stat includes 3 SB winners: New Orleans, Green Bay, NYG)
There are a million ways to slice and dice these stats. However, I didn't notice anything that actually made the defense look good. I feel pretty comfortable saying that the Dallas defense has contributed its share of last minute misery over the years and hasn't done much to compensate.
I look forward to any counterarguments and I've linked my searches in case I've made an error somewhere. At the end of the day, we are talking about a few plays over the course of years, but that's how QB's get judged.