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|
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?
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|
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