The Romo Blame Game

Tony Romo is now 40-26 as a starter, including playoff games.

In less than six full seasons as the Cowboys’ starter, Tony Romo has started 63 regular-season games and 4 playoff games. He has lost a total of 26 of these starts.

After the dreadful fourth-quarter performance last night, most are remembering that Romo has cost the team some games. This is especially true of his last several starts dating back to last season.

Here’ s a question that this post attempts to answer: how many of those 26 losses can be attributed to Romo? Of course, all losses are team losses, so no single player is ever completely responsible for losing a game. However, more so than any other player, the quarterback can have a direct effect on whether a team wins or loses.

According to the summary below, I would blame Romo for 12 of those losses. Included in this is the playoff loss at Seattle, which was not really Romo’s fault as a quarterback but was his fault as a holder.

So overall, for anyone who agrees with my summary, Romo in his six-year career as a starter hasn’t frequently made the kinds of critical mistakes that cost the team on Sunday night. What is troubling, though, is that Romo seems to be more to blame for more recent losses than he was when he was a new starter.

Nov. 11, 2006: Washington 22, Dallas 19

Romo to blame? No.

The Cowboys were in position to win the game, but a botched field-goal attempt followed by a penalty led to Washington’s game-winning kick.

Dec. 12, 2006: New Orleans 42, Dallas 17

Romo to blame? No.

Romo didn’t set the world on fire, but the defense had no answer for the Saints.

Dec. 25, 2006: Philadelphia 23, Dallas 7

Romo to blame? Yes, partially

Jeff Garcia generally outplayed Romo in another December loss for the Cowboys. Romo threw two interceptions in the game.

Dec. 31, 2006: Detroit 39, Dallas 21

Romo to blame? No.

Romo nearly brought the Cowboys from behind, but the defense could not stop Jon Kitna, who threw for four touchdowns. The legendary Mike Furrey had 102 yards on 11 receptions.

Jan. 6, 2007: Seattle 21, Dallas 20

Romo to blame? Yes, as a holder.

Romo drove the Cowboys to what appeared to be a game-winning drive. But Seattle kept the Cowboys from scoring a touchdown, and when Romo took the snap for the field goal…well, you probably know the rest.

Oct. 14, 2007: New England 48, Dallas 27

Romo to blame? No.

Romo needed to throw for about 500 yards to keep pace with Tom Brady, who sliced and diced the Cowboys defense all day.

Dec. 16, 2007: Philadelphia 10, Dallas 6

Romo to blame? Yes.

The Cowboys came off a come-from-behind win over the Lions with a poor game against the Eagles. Romo completed less than 50% of his passes and threw three picks.

Dec. 30, 2007: Washington 27, Dallas 6

Romo to blame? No.

Romo played part of the first half and didn’t look good. But the Cowboys really never made much of an effort in this loss, which seemed meaningless at the time.

Jan. 13, 2008: N.Y. Giants 21, Dallas 17

Romo to blame? Yes, though debatable.

Romo only completed 50% of his passes in this gut-wrenching loss. However, had Patrick Crayton not dropped one critical pass and failed to run the proper route on another, the Cowboys might have won.

Sept. 28, 2008: Washington 26, Dallas 24

Romo to blame? No.

Romo had a good game on paper (300 yards, 3 TDs), but the Cowboys had no rushing game.

Oct. 12, 2008: Arizona 30, Dallas 24 (OT)

Romo to blame? No.

Yet another good game on paper (321 yards passing, 3 TDs). But Romo was injured in overtime, and the Cardinals returned a blocked Mat McBriar punt in overtime for the game-winning touchdown.

Dec. 7, 2008: Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 13

Romo to blame? Yes.

In what could have been a signature win for the 2008 Cowboys, Dallas took a 13-3 lead into the fourth quarter. But Pittsburgh chipped way at the lead and tied it at 13. Dallas got the ball, and Romo promptly found Deshea Townsend, who returned the pick 25 yards for the game-winning score.

Dec. 20, 2008: Baltimore 33, Dallas 24

Romo to blame? No.

Romo didn’t have a great game and threw two picks to Ed Reed in the first half. But Romo also put the Cowboys in position to take control of the game. The Dallas defense gave up two long runs in the fourth quarter, ending last game at Texas Stadium in sickening fashion.

Dec. 28, 2008: Philadelphia 44, Dallas 6

Romo to blame? Yes, along with everyone else.

Romo was horrible, but the entire team was so bad that no quarterback would have been successful.

Sept. 20, 2009: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31

Romo to blame? Yes.

Romo only managed 127 passing yards and threw three picks. The Giants returned one of them for a go-ahead score. Another was a bit of a fluke (bounced off Witten’s foot) but led to another TD. The third came late in the third quarter with Dallas leading by four. He ran for one score and drove the Cowboys to a go-ahead touchdown late. However, his overall game was poor.

Oct. 4, 2009: Denver 17, Dallas 10

Romo to blame? Yes.

Romo threw a pick in the red zone and fumbled the ball to set up a Denver touchdown. His fourth-and-goal pass with five seconds left was swatted down by Champ Bailey.

Nov. 11, 2009: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7

Romo to blame? Yes, at least arguably.

Roy Williams had a cricial fumble in the first half. Dallas otherwise had trouble moving the ball. The Cowboys did not manage a third down conversion until the third quarter.

Dec. 6, 2009: N.Y. Giants 31, Dallas 24

Romo to blame? No.

Romo threw for 392 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. However, the defense had no answer in an ugly loss at the Meadowlands.

Dec. 13, 2009: San Diego 20, Dallas 17

Romo to blame? No.

Romo didn’t commit a turnover in throwing for 249 yards. The Dallas defense just didn’t step up.

Jan. 17, 2010: Minnesota 34, Dallas 3

Romo to blame? No.

Romo didn’t set the world on fire, but this game got away from the Cowboys thanks to a terrible defensive effort. Sidney Rice looked like a guy named Jerry.

Sept. 12, 2010: Washington 13, Dallas 7

Romo to blame? No.

Tough to blame Romo when it looked as if he completed the game-winner with time expiring. Easier to blame a missed field goal, a bad screen pass at the end of the first half, and Alex Barron.

Sept. 19, 2010: Chicago 27, Dallas 20

Romo to blame? No.

Romo had a huge game on paper, throwing for 374 yards on 51 attempts. However, the defense could not slow down the Bears.

Oct. 10, 2010: Tennessee 34, Dallas 27

Romo to blame? Yes.

Romo brought the Cowboys from behind, but he also threw two critical second-half picks that helped kill the team’s chances.

Oct. 17, 2010: Minnesota 24, Dallas 21

Romo to blame? Yes.

With the game tied at 21, Dallas got the ball at its own 14. Romo tried to get the ball over the middle to Jason Witten but never saw E.J. Henderson, who picked the pass off. The result was what turned out to be the game-winning field goal.

Oct. 25, 2010: N.Y. Giants 41, Dallas 35

Romo to blame? No.

Romo had a good start but was injured in the first half. The injury cost him the rest of the season.

Sept. 11, 2011: N.Y. Jets 27, Dallas 24

Romo to blame? Absolutely yes.

Romo’s fumble with the team leading by seven and about to go up by two scores was a killer. Even worse was Romo’s interception that set up the game-winning field goal.

  • DaProphet

    You know what though? I’m ready to get over it. I hear the people who say get rid of him and  I — though not a big Romo-booster — am ready for those people to shut up. He’s a good quarterback. He did blow it. But he can win. And he will win. And these people tearing him down as though he slept with their girlfriend have way more than said their piece. Please. Go root for the Eagles.

  • Anonymous

    I am certainly not advocating getting rid of him. In most of the games where I thought the loss was his fault, he also made some plays that many QBs would not have made. What is maddening is that I would have expected major mistakes in 2006 or 2007, but he is making those mistakes more frequently now.