Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones' supports quarterback Tony Romo unconditionally. It explains why Jones invested $108 million in him in March. And why, after Week 5's game-deciding fourth quarter interception against the Broncos, Jones immediately came to Romo's defense.
“Tony played the best game that I've ever seen him play in his career, not only from the standpoint of how he executed, not only how he created plays but his leadership, “Jones said at the time. “That was unfortunate that it came down to that at the end, but you can see the very best over on the other side of the ball, it can happen to them, too. Heplayed the best game that he's ever played for us. If we can have that kind of play from him and others, especially on the offensive side of the ball, then we'll win most of our football games left.”
On Sunday, the Cowboys face the Eagles. And if the game hangs in the balance in the waning moments, Jones wants the ball in Romo's hands.
“I'm expecting to win it,” Jones said during his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM, via ESPNDallas.com. “I hadn't booked it, but we had ‘em against Denver. And we've got a quarterback that's the best in the business in the fourth quarter. He's the best.
"He can make it happen when it's not there. Other than being ahead with the ball, there's no one I'd rather have at this time than to have Romo trying to get us down the field in a short period of time.”
Turns out, Jones is half right.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, since 2006, Romo has the fourth-highest fourth-quarter QB rating (behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees). Over that span, it includes 19 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, which ranks fifth. Heading into the Week 5 game against the Broncos, Romo had just one interception this season, and his 13 touchdowns was second only to Peyton Manning.
But the story changes when you break down Romo's fourth-quarter QB rating (again, from 2006 to present). In the first 12 minutes it's 80, second-best to Peyton Manning. In the final three minutes it drops to a below-average 44. He also has eight fourth-quarter interceptions, most in the league over that time.
Here's the bottom line: On paper, Romo is elite. And 95 percent of the time, that's who we see on the field. It's just that those moments -- whether bad luck or dumb decisions -- have haunted him throughout his career. Never mind that other legit franchise quarterbacks make those very same mistakes, or that Peyton Manning steamrolled the Cowboys' defense in the same game Romo threw for 506 yards.
Romo's skeptics can easily ignore those facts, and they'll continue to do so until he wins something. It's not fair but fairness doesn't have a dog in this fight. The NFL is a bottom-line business, and the Cowboys, but not the quarterback -- it's an important distinction -- have been mediocre during Romo's tenure.