Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) yells at head linesman Jerry Bergman (91) after throwing an interception in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. The Packers beat the Cowboys 37-36. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Romo Not A Loser, Choker; So Why Don't His Cowboys Win?

This is the final installment of the three-part series written specifically for Tony Romo haters, offering a candid, unbiased and empirical analysis of all the reasons why the Dallas Cowboys quarterback is way cooler than they are. View the first two installments here:

Hater Myth No. 1: Tony Romo is a “loser.”

Hater Myth No. 2: Tony Romo is a “choker.”

Quick aside before we wrap this up: I identified Romo haters in general as “morons” in the last two posts, and I want to apologize for that. My pop didn’t appreciate that kind of low-level communication, and he let me have it. “We don’t call people morons, son,” he said. “That’s name-calling, and name-calling is not productive. What we can do, and what we should do, is let these people know that it looks bad when they say things that a moron would say.” I hope this clears the air, Romo haters.

Apparently media analyst Bucky Brooks over at NFL.com frequents our site, and it’s given him a few ideas. Thanks, Bucky. I read your stuff, too. His Tuesday post ranked Romo the sixth most clutch quarterback in the league. We could quibble about placement, but Bucky gets the gist. Among his revelations:

Romo is one of the most efficient fourth-quarter quarterbacks, completing 69.6 percent of his passes and compiling a 105.6 passer rating in the final period last season. Critics, of course, will point out some memorable interceptions with the game on the line, but the fact that he has orchestrated 11 fourth-quarter comebacks in the past three seasons suggests that he routinely comes through for the Cowboys when it matters.

It’s more than that. Romo has played pretty well overall in one-score losses over the past three years, consistently giving his team a good chance to win. Here’s a breakdown of his lines in one-score losses, courtesy Pro Football Reference:

 
Opp
Result
Cmp
Att
Cmp%
Yds
TD
Int
Rate
Y/A
2011NYJL 24-27233663.9%34221101.99.50
2011DETL 30-34344772.3%3313386.47.04
2011NWEL 16-20274165.9%3171187.17.73
2011ARIL 13-19284266.7%2991095.27.12
2011NYGL 34-37213167.7%32140141.310.35
2012BALL 29-31253669.4%2612197.17.25
2012NYGL 24-29366258.1%4371458.37.05
2012ATLL 13-19253571.4%32110109.39.17
2012WASL 31-38376259.7%4413284.17.11
2012NORL 31-34264360.5%41640123.89.67
2013KANL 16-17304271.4%2981099.17.10
2013DENL 48-51253669.4%50651140.014.06
2013DETL 30-31143046.7%20630102.96.87
2013GNBL 36-37294860.4%3582280.07.46
AVG LINE27.142.264.3%346.72.361.07100.58.21

What exactly are you looking for from your quarterback, Romo haters? Better than a 2-to-1 ratio of TDs to INTs? A 100+ quarterback rating? Over 8 yards per attempt? Check, check, check. The Cowboys are losing these games for some reason, and in general it doesn’t appear to be due to the quarterback play.

The Cowboys averaged nearly 27 points per game in those losses. Pretty strong. In seven of these losses the Dallas offense scored 30 points or more. Got me wondering if, even in this era of high-flying offenses, that’s a bit above the norm. This graph shows every NFL team’s winning percentage over the past three seasons when they score 30 points or more.

 
WINS
LOSSES
PCT.
ATL1601.000
SEA1401.000
BAL1301.000
CIN1301.000
IND801.000
NYJ801.000
MIA701.000
STL701.000
ARI401.000
SF1910.950
CAR1410.933
SD1210.923
NE2930.906
DEN2430.889
WAS810.889
CHI1420.875
TEN710.875
HOU1320.867
NO2240.846
GB2040.833
NYG1020.833
TB510.833
CLE410.800
DET1240.750
MIN930.750
PIT620.750
KC310.750
BUF830.727
PHI1040.714
JAX210.667
DAL970.563
OAK230.400
TOTALS352550.865

The Cowboys have scored 30+ points 16 times in the past three years – that’s tied for the sixth best mark in the league. The average winning percentage for all 32 teams when they score 30 or more is .865. That’s the rough equivalent of going 13-2. The Top 10 teams on this list are a combined 109-1. Dang. The bottom 10 teams – excluding the Cowboys - posted a cumulative .726 winning percentage. Wow.

The Cowboys are 9-7. Tony Romo is barely .500 when he puts up 30+ points. If the defense over the past three seasons was just stout enough to be average in this category, and the team was 13-3 instead of 9-7, Dallas could very well be entering the 2014 season as the defending three-time NFC East champions. And you really want to assert that the reason Dallas doesn’t win more is because Tony Romo is a loser? Before you speak, remember: It looks bad when you say things that a moron would say.

It takes a great team to win the Super Bowl. There isn’t a quarterback ever to play in this league who did it on his own. John Elway was a “loser” until the Denver Broncos found a 2,000-yard tailback. Manning was a “choker” until the Indianapolis defense held playoff opponents to just 16 points per game in 2006. Favre got his ring in Green Bay in 1996, but New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe is a “winner” today if return specialist Desmond Howard was a Patriot.

Football teams win football games. Perhaps Romo’s best chance was 2009, when he was supported by the league’s 2nd-ranked scoring defense. But it didn’t happen. Oh well. Romo is hardly the worst offender when it comes to squandering a quality defense. Romo has played with only one Top 5 scoring defense in his entire career. Brady and Manning have failed to win a ring three times each with Top-5 scoring defenses. Ben Roethlisberger has two rings in Pittsburgh, and has also failed to win three separate times when supported by the league’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense.

“Winners” don’t win anything without a great team. Even then, it’s hard to win. Takes a few breaks. Manning, Brees, and Rodgers are all winners, right? Well between them they have 33 years as starters in the NFL and one ring each. Manning got his ring in his ninth season; Brees in his eighth. Romo has six full seasons as a starter, parts of two others, and no rings. Relax already. If Hall of Famers like Marino or Moon or Fouts had a ring, would that make them better? Of course not. A Super Bowl win is a team accomplishment.

Ask Favre, who in the most important game of his life saw a special teams player win the MVP. Ask Brees, who watched the two biggest plays of Super Bowl XLIV from the sidelines. Ask New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has two rings but has never won a playoff game in which his opponent scored 21 points or more. It’s all about the team. Tony Romo is no different from any other elite quarterback: If he can stay healthy, and get the right team around him, and they get hot at the right time, and they catch a few breaks, then he’ll get his ring.

If not, he’s still a stud, and Cowboys Nation can thank him for keeping a rebuilding team competitive over the past three years. You’re gonna miss him when he’s gone.

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