Here’s another sad fact: all of those quarterbacks listed above accrued their wins in Super Bowl-reaching seasons.

Tony Romo: Comeback King, Part II

In Part I, we examined Tony Romo’s comeback attempts and wins versus the rest of the franchise. In this installment, we’ll take a look at Tony Romo’s comeback attempts and wins versus his peers. And I’m not going to waste your time, let alone mine, and compare Tony Romo to Matt Cassel and Carson Palmer. Instead, the qualifications to be one of Tony Romo’s “peers” was to have met the following:

1. Played in a minimum of 40 games through 2012.

2. Won a playoff game.

With these criteria, it is easier to evaluate one’s body of work. While cases like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are impressive, they don’t have enough data to analyze. Someday, I’ll probably have to, but hopefully it will be in a case analysis of how they suck next to Romo’s heir.

The 14 quarterbacks that I defined as Romo’s peers are as follows: Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Schaub, Mark Sanchez, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Eli & Peyton Manning.

Since these 14 peers are significantly more than the four other Cowboys franchise quarterbacks, I’m going to do something different. In a category wherein Romo does not qualify for the Top 5, I’ll list his statistics nonetheless along with a list of other quarterbacks who rank lower than Romo in that particular category.

Again, how I retrieved my data was by going through every box score of a total of 33 quarterbacks (4 Cowboys, 14 peers, 15 all-time QB’s). My criterion for 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 stand next to his peers?



Tony Romo – 11 (2012)

Eli Manning – 10 (2011)

Joe Flacco – 9 (2010)

Philip Rivers – 9 (2008)

Mark Sanchez – 9 (2010)


Guess what makes Tony Romo’s most comeback attempts different than all the others, besides the fact he has a two-game margin. It’s the fact all of his were in a 16-game season. All of the other players listed had their comeback attempts in their teams’ playoff runs. 11/16 games this past season were games where the Cowboys offense was expected to mount a fourth quarter comeback.



Eli Manning – 7 (2011)

Peyton Manning – 7 (2009)

Ben Roethlisberger – 6 (2008)

Alex Smith – 6 (2011)

Tom Brady – 5 (2003)


Tony Romo: 5 (2012)
(Brees, Rivers, Rodgers, Ryan, Flacco, Cutler, Hasselbeck, Schaub, and Sanchez fall below)




Peyton Manning: 81

Drew Brees: 65

Tom Brady: 51

Ben Roethlisberger: 50

Eli Manning: 48


Tony Romo: 43 (Rodgers, Flacco, Smith, Ryan, Sanchez, Rivers, Schaub, and Cutler fall below)



Peyton Manning: 36

Eli Manning: 27

Tom Brady: 27

Drew Brees: 26

Ben Roethlisberger: 25


Tony Romo: 18 (Rodgers, Schaub, Smith, Cutler, Sanchez, Ryan, Flacco, and Rivers fall below)



Peyton Manning: 24

Ben Roethlisberger: 13

Drew Brees: 12

Eli Manning: 11

Tony Romo: 10



Eli Manning: 58%

Tom Brady: 53%

Matt Ryan: 53%

Ben Roethlisberger: 50%

Mark Sanchez: 46%


Tony Romo: 42% (Rodgers, Flacco, Smith, Brees, Rivers, Hasselbeck, and Schaub fall below)



Tom Brady: 9-1

Eli Manning: 7-2

Tony Romo: 5-3

Joe Flacco: 5-3

Ben Roethlisberger: 4-2



Tony Romo – 5 (2011)

Joe Flacco – 4 (2010)

Aaron Rodgers – 4 (2008)

Drew Brees – 4 (2008)

Drew Brees – 4 (2005)



Drew Brees – 23

Peyton Manning – 22

Matt Hasselbeck – 18

Tony Romo – 13

Ben Roethlisberger: 12



Tom Brady: 7.3

Drew Brees: 7

Peyton Manning: 6.4

Matt Schaub: 6.3

Matt Hasselbeck: 6.3


Tony Romo: 6.2 (Cuter, Sanchez, Ryan, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Smith, Flacco, Rivers, and Eli Manning fall below)



Matt Hasselbeck: 64%

Drew Brees: 59%

Matt Schaub: 54%

Tony Romo: 52%

Alex Smith: 50%



Tony Romo: 3 (2011)

Drew Brees: 3 (2004)

Peyton Manning: 3 (1998)

Drew Brees: 2 (2002)

Matt Hasselbeck: 2 (2004)


Do we still wonder why Rob Ryan was let go?



Drew Brees: 7

Peyton Manning: 5

Tony Romo: 4

Matt Hasselbeck: 3

Ben Roethlisberger: 2



Tom Brady: 3-0 (2001)

Drew Brees: 3-1 (2002)

Tony Romo: 2-1 (2012)

Tony Romo: 2-1 (2011)

Jay Cutler: 2-2 (2007)



Tony Romo: 4-2 (2011-12)

Joe Flacco: 3-1 (2009-10)

Drew Brees: 3-2 (2002-03)

Jay Cutler: 2-3 (2006-07)

Eli Manning: 2-2 (2005-06)


So there it is. Again, it’s more scientific proof that Tony Romo isn’t necessarily this horrendous choke artist at whose feet we can lay the blame for the Cowboys’ six-year woes. It’s just as a commenter named “scottmaui” called it in Part I: “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.” What eloquent writing — you can tell he’s not a crank with a keyboard pecking away in some bug house.

Don’t get me wrong. Romo has blown some games. When people ask me, I point out the Steelers game in 2008, the Giants game at home in 2009, and others. The reality is it will take all ten fingers to do so, unless you’re already a raging Romophobe who even Count von Count can’t help. What also is the reality: Tony Romo has kept the Dallas Cowboys in a lot of games since 2006. He doesn’t have the hardware of his Super Bowl-winning peers. But it’s fair to say he’s also not had the teams they have. And don’t bring up the 13 Pro Bowlers in 2007 when you’re the very same anencephalic schmuck that said most of those players didn’t deserve it.

Take Eli Manning, for instance. I hate Eli Manning. I refer to him as “Mouth-breather.” But I wasn’t going to skew the numbers in my study to make him look less than Romo. His fourth quarter heroics are self-evident. You can’t hide that fact. But what you also can’t hide is the fact is he’s only had 9 instances of his defense blowing a fourth quarter lead in his entire career. A third of them came in 2012, a year where the dismantling of the Giants defense was also self-evident. There’s a stretch in his career from 2008-11 where Eli’s defense only gave up two fourth quarter leads in four full seasons. Give Romo that kind of defense, and we’re at least in the divisional round annually.

Now that we have analyzed Romo’s place in the franchise and amongst his peers, let’s see how he measures up with league legends in next week’s installment.


Additional Commentary

I have a new respect for Ben Roethlisberger after tallying these numbers. I always thought of him as a guy with a cheeseburger in one hand and a football in another. But he has a pretty impressive comeback rate and has asked to pull his team back more than I thought. That 2008 season was the best of his career.

Matt Ryan really is “Matty Ice.” I always thought he was a media-contrived fiction. But he’s got 16 comeback wins in 30 comeback attempts. At this continuing rate, he will be regarded as a captain of comebacks in his career’s twilight.

Aaron Rodgers is the Capricorn One of clutch quarterbacks. Next time one of your jellyfish-brained Packers fans on Facebook, neuron-deficient oafs who have no clue who Sterling Sharpe is yet wear a cheese hat, posts anything about Green Bay, post this: Aaron Rodgers has 5 comebacks in 23 attempts. Only 8/18 of those were blown by the defense. His overtime record is a Grossman-esque 0-5. In fact, Rex Grossman was 3-1 in overtime. When it’s the two-minute drill and you’re down by a score, go with anyone but the man whose last comeback drive was Week 1 of 2009.

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  • truth

    Sorry Mark Lane, but a high % of fans can easily tell that your are nothing more than a romo-apologist. This is rhetorical nonsense at it’s best.
    Re-check the numbers, I bet Romo is no longer on the radar when you combine how many times these same “peers” as Romo, started off slow, sucked in the first 3 qtrs. to create such an atmosphere that allows for one to think it was a nice and great comeback vs a deficit that the QB created in the first place, ha!
    Really reaching as a writer sir, wow…

  • jrcowboy49

    There is only one comeback king for the Cowboys…………….Captain America, Rodger the Dodger Staubach!

  • truth

    Take out the games that Romo created a deficit or falling behind because of his bone-headed decsions and ill-performances and then how many comeback wins do you have for Romo?! None, that’s how many sir.
    Look good and hard, of which I don’t think you do, and Domo, errr, Romo starts off slow, skittish, can’t buy a good-throw, has no guts, no command, no leadership qualities or abilities, interceptions to create deficits, and just plain idiotic playing by Romo. And that is why he is not in the same breath of such “peers” you say he is.
    What’s even more funny, Tm Tebow graded out better than Romo by his “peers” in last yrs. Top 100 players voted on by the current “peers,” ha!
    What are you smoking dude??!

    • Coach Dave

      I’d rather have Tim Tebow any day over Romo! Great point TRUTH!

  • Coach Dave

    Crucial games, division games, games that have significance *Tony Romo 1W-28L *Other NFL QB’s 28W-1L.

  • Artie C

    Interesting how palpable the hate is for Tony Romo. It goes way beyond performance critique. Some of the comments are the blogging equivalent of road rage.

  • NickFury

    This article leads you to believe it’s mostly the D’s fault the Cowboys lose so much… I just saw a video on datnewhiphop com about how Dallas will resign Romo, I think its a huge mistake and should concentrate on building a shut down D