Just as talented. Deal with it.

Tony Romo: Comeback King, Part I

Tony Romo is a schmuck who chokes in big games. That’s a fair assessment, right? After all, we’ve seen him botch the Seattle hold, throw picksixes, and most recently hand the 2012 division crown to the Redskins. So it’s not like we can blame the media or a vocal minority of microcephalic fans who sit around wondering why light bulbs burn out. It’s all verifiable; we see it with our own eyes!

Back in the off-season leading up to 2008, I made a nine-part video treatise stating Tony Romo was a franchise quarterback. Hey, I was right. I know that Norelco did the same thing on CBS 11 the next season, and I know it’s the article de jour for writers hither and thither when they’re facing a deadline and have writer’s block. But I feel I need to do it again, because Cowboys fans just don’t realize what a treasure we’ve got at quarterback.

Why do I say this when he’s only got a 1-3 playoff record, and this is a franchise with multiple Super Bowl champion quarterbacks? First off, playoff games and Super Bowl wins are team accomplishments. I know that appears as a copout, but following that line of logic would then put bus drivers like Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Jeff Hostetler, et al above guys like Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton. Only someone who licks lead paint might come to that conclusion.

The fact of the matter is Tony Romo is as talented as Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. For a career, Romo has a higher completion percentage, most touchdowns, most 300-yard games, and not even 100 picks. He’s set single-season records in completions, attempts, touchdowns, and yards. Yes, I know: stats don’t win championships, but stats are a scientific, quantitative indicator of the talent at the position.

I’m not going to preach to you about Tony Romo’s franchise best 95.6 career quarterback rating, which is 12.2 higher than Roger Staubach’s. Rather, we’re going to look at another statistic Romo is about to set a franchise best at: fourth quarter comebacks.

In this study, I looked at five Cowboys quarterbacks: Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo. No one else has started more games in franchise history than these two. Each one of them has a minimum of 25 comeback attempts, which is a large enough sample size to gauge how “clutch” a quarterback is.

I went through every box score of the five quarterbacks mentioned, along with 24 other quarterbacks for comparison. How I determined whether a fourth quarter comeback was possible is if the final score was within 1-7 points in games from 1960-93 and 1-8 points from 1994-present. I made exceptions. Overtime games automatically counted as comebacks due to their sudden death implications. If a game ended with the opposition scoring as time expired or the quarterback was knocked out of the game, then I struck that from the quarterback’s count. So, for instance, I didn’t count the Immaculate Reception against Ken Stabler. However, I did count Super Bowl XXV against Jim Kelly because he failed to lead a comeback. His offense had to settle for a field goal rather than scoring a touchdown and beating the Giants. That’s on him, in the scope of this study.

If there was a picksix or defensive touchdowns that led to the team gaining and retaining the lead, then the quarterback wasn’t credited with a fourth quarter comeback attempt or win.

So how does Romo shape up?



Tony Romo – 11 (2012)

Roger Staubach – 9 (1974)

Troy Aikman – 9 (1997)

Tony Romo – 9 (2011)

Don Meredith – 7 (1963)



Tony Romo – 5 (2012)

Roger Staubach – 4 (1975)

Roger Staubach – 4 (1979)

Danny White – 4 (1980)

Tony Romo – 4 (2011)


Did you catch that? In the past two seasons, Tony Romo has set top-5 performances in comeback attempts and comeback wins. If you knew your history, you would recognize 1974, when Roger Staubach set a personal best for 9 comeback attempts, as the year the Cowboys didn’t qualify for the playoffs. When you’re putting your quarterback in positions to pull out the win contest after contest, it’s unsustainable when trying to go deep into the playoffs. Look at the comeback attempts in a season table again. None of those teams qualified for postseason play.

In 1971, Roger Staubach only had to pull off a comeback twice, and twice more in 1977. On Troy Aikman’s Super Bowl teams, the most he had to pull off a comeback was four times in 1995. If the Cowboys had won Super Bowl X at the 1975 season’s conclusion, then Staubach would have had 8 comeback attempts for the season, the most for a Cowboys Super Bowl-winning team. But even Super Bowl X was a comeback attempt. You can’t keep asking your quarterback to pull off comebacks without him inevitably failing. And when you do ask, don’t say he’s a “choker.” It’s a team game. Here’s how Romo’s comeback attempts and wins compare career wise:



Troy Aikman: 48

Roger Staubach: 44

Tony Romo: 43

Danny White: 32

Don Meredith: 28



Roger Staubach: 19

Tony Romo: 18

Troy Aikman: 17

Danny White: 16

Don Meredith: 7


Another element to my research was I looked at the leads given up by the Cowboys defense. The results probably won’t surprise Romo rooters, won’t convince Romophobes, but are nonetheless startling in a franchise context:



Don Meredith – 5 (1963)

Tony Romo – 5 (2011)

Roger Staubach – 4 (1975)

Troy Aikman – 4 (1989)

Troy Aikman – 4 (1997)


This one right here is disgusting and proof positive of why Rob Ryan should have been fired. His defense gave up five fourth quarter leads, which tied a franchise best with a team that was four seasons removed from its inception. Play more:



Troy Aikman: 6.2

Tony Romo: 6.2

Don Meredith: 6.2

Danny White: 6.1

Roger Staubach: 4.9



Don Meredith: 57%

Danny White: 56%

Troy Aikman: 55%

Roger Staubach: 52%

Tony Romo: 52%



Tony Romo: 3 (2011)

Troy Aikman: 2 (1989)

Troy Aikman: 1 (1997)

Danny White: 1 (1984)

Roger Staubach: 1 (1976)


Again, another disgusting statistic: that’s one more game than the hapless 1-15 Cowboys.

Now, this is just trivia, in case you like that sort of thing:



Roger Staubach: 11

Tony Romo: 10

Danny White: 8

Troy Aikman: 8

Drew Bledsoe: 4



Danny White: 50%

Roger Staubach: 43%

Tony Romo: 42%

Troy Aikman: 36%

Don Meredith: 25%



Tony Romo: 4

Troy Aikman: 4

Danny White: 1

Roger Staubach: 1

Don Meredith: 1



Tony Romo 5-3

Troy Aikman: 5-4

Roger Staubach: 3-1

Danny White: 2-2

Drew Bledsoe: 1-1



Tony Romo: 2-1 (2012)

Tony Romo: 2-1 (2011)

Drew Bledsoe: 1-1 (2005)

Troy Aikman: 1-1 (2000)

Danny White: 1-1 (1987)



Tony Romo: 4-2 (2011-12)

Troy Aikman: 2-1 (1999-00)

Roger Staubach: 2-0 (1977-78)

Troy Aikman: 1-1 (1993-94)

Danny White: 1-1 (1986-87)


When compared to franchise greats like Staubach and Aikman, Tony Romo has proven his worth as a clutch quarterback. He’s had the most comeback attempts in a season and also the most comeback wins in a season. He’s five comeback attempts away from tying Troy Aikman, and only one more comeback win from tying Roger Staubach. Tony Romo has also been systematically worked against as he’s trying to pull off his comeback magic, as evidenced by the 2011 Cowboys defense surrendering 5 fourth quarter leads and three leads of 10+ points, both franchise records.

But how does Romo compare to his peers? We’ll take a look at that next week in Part II.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Roger Staubach The Landry Hat Tony Romo Troy Aikman

  • truth

    Mark Lane, shut-it, plain and simple. We all know you are a romo-apologist and can’t see the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest. Yeah….that bad sir.

    Romo is not like the rest of the best current 15 best QBs who play good for the whole 4 qtrs and there consistency is never questioned! Now if they played horrible in the 1st qtr., 2nd or 3rd….fans and football fans in general would be saying that it means nothing to throw or run for a TD or 2 to win the game!!!

    Why, because he created the deficit in the first place and so, it is not counted as a comeback. One thing you and many writers do is act as if fans that visit here don’t have the intelligence to tell the difference. You try to pass off such flimsy opinions as truth/facts. Nice spin but if Romo played even decent for the first 3 qtrs. of all or most of these comebacks, then I and most anybody would say that yes, he brought the team back for a win despite trailing most of the game, even if it was just in the 4th qtr.
    Quite the opposite: Cowboys Defense, OL, etc, etc…played good throughout the game, even keeping Offensive-Juggernauts from scoring or scoring minimal points – i.e., keeping Patroits to 20-22 pts. when they were averaging 40 + a game – allowing Cowboys to keep hopes alive and/or in the game. Pul-leaze sir, come-up with something with substance will-ya!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/rick.dose.9 Rick Mage

      Dude, you are a fuckin’ moron. Romo is a beast! If you’re a Cowboys fan, I sure would love to stomp your head in!

      • truth

        I wish you would….I would gladly give you the opportunity!! You talk a good game sir… LOL.

        • http://www.facebook.com/rick.dose.9 Rick Mage

          I’m going to the Cowboys first home game with a “Romo haters fuckin’ SUCK!!” Shirt on. ;) If you see me, please introduce your self, bitch…

    • Spanky

      truth – your entire comment was an “opinion” without “truth/facts”. In addition, who are these “15 best QB’s” you’re talking about? What “truth/facts” can you produce that show they’re better than Romo (besides your “opinion”?

      • truth

        Uhhh…Lions game in 2011′, or….Jets game that same yr. – Case closed sir, you lose!! It is what it is….
        And this has been the status quo year-in and year-out, no matter the yr.!!
        Again I can name multiple games he did it this past yr. – 2012 season. I’ll just say “Redskins Anybody??!” – Again, facts, not opinions!!
        Romo, for the life of, can’t make good decisions, especially under pressure. He throws it up in the air, hoping his WRs – or any Cowboys for that matter – catches it or bails him out. And then, being the retarrd he is, will say something like, he meant to do that if it works, and make an excuse if it doesn’t work.
        More, okay….just for you. Let’s look at 2010 because it is a very good example of a apples-to-apples comparison. In 7th week vs the Giants, wherre Romo got hurt. Romo could only score 1 TD – and that wasn’t even his since Newman brought it back to Giants 5 yd. line, ha! – and didn’t move the offense inside Giants 30 when Cowboys scored a FG and yes, off another Cowboys takeaway.
        That game, Romo was given 4 Cowboys takeaways inside Giants territory. In other words, he had 4 chances off of Cowboys takeaways to score inside Giants territory. In reality, didn’t score any considering Newman brought ball back to 5 yd.line. Not sure but believe it was ran-in. FG?…under his “leadership – or lack thereof” he didn’t move the ball so it was basically a defensive score, considering the Cowboys kicker made a FG.
        When Kitna came in, Cowboys defense didn’t afford him any takeaways. Yet, he was able to march the Cowboys down the field time and time again, something Romo could not do even with full-on momentum and advantage on his side. Kitna drove Cowboys the length of the field(from Cowboys own 20 to Giants redzone) several times – something Domo couldn’t do much of with momentum on his side, dweeb – to cap it with 2 TDs passes to Dez and set-up Kicker for easy FG. And he converted a 2-pt. conversion.
        See, this is what Domo can’t do with the same OL that an old-washed-up QB can. How much more with a head-strong and talented QB as Russel Wilson, Kapernick, etc, etc…dodo-bird???
        Domo is the problem and needs to go ASAP!!! Facts son, facts…

  • scottmaui

    Romo is the ultimate example of confirmation bias. People notice and remember what reinforces their existing beliefs. If you think of him as a choker, you remember his chokes, and not his comeback wins. If you like Romo, you remember his amazing escapism, his 4th quarter comebacks, and how fun he is to watch… most of the time.

    There are times when it’s on him. But there are way too many times when he’s the main reason they’re in it in the first place, and then he gets blamed when he can’t pull out the miracle in the end, or when he does it gets forgotten.

    Romo is a very good and maybe great QB who certainly has the talent to lead his team to the SB, but getting to the SB takes the whole team, and in one way or another he hasn’t had the team to get there. As Jerry recently intimated, he makes up for a bad oline, but that only goes so far.

    But Cowboys fans are lucky to have him, and should just hope that the rest of the team can play to his level (esp the oline to give him some time to work his magic) and take the team over the top together.

  • j.Ford

    I for one havent given up on romo until he has a line that keeps him from scrambling every game all game. Once your in the playoffs or in a division game against the best talent in the league you see the glaring needs our offensive line was no match what so ever against the redskins our offensive line made their defense look like the 85 bears they couldnt block the akron zips. They need two road graters like the breezes, bradys, mannings, flaccos, and ryan give him 4 or 5 seconds and then ill make a decision on romo cause i havent seen a qb win a super bowl running for his life all year long. If thats how its going to be just draft geno smith and just start running our qb so its no surprise that hes running fo his life all year.