Tony Romo vs. The Critics

All it took was a couple of plays, and Tony Romo went from Monday Night Football hero to Monday Night Football dud. With the Cowboys up by two scores on the New York Jets in a game meant as a tribute to the infamous Sept. 11 attacks, Romo gave the city of New York a reason to celebrate, losing a fumble at the 1-yard line and throwing an interception with less than a minute to play to set up a game-winning field goal against the Jets. As soon as Romo gave the game away, critics from all over the country voiced their opinions of the Dallas star quarterback on Twitter. As if Romo needed more criticism and exposure, he became a trending topic on Twitter, with almost all the tweets talking about how bad he was in the clutch. What a cruel environment the internet can be.

In my opinion, Romo gets way too much criticism for a quarterback that can arguably be considered top-10 in the league. In a full season at the helm just two years ago, Romo threw for over a 63 percent completion percentage and almost 4,500 yards.

Let’s put that in perspective. Ben Roethlisberger, considered to be a top 10 and potentially top five quarterback, has never reached that amount of yardage, while also compiling a lower overall quarterback rating than Romo over their careers. Yes, Roethlisberger has two Super Bowls under his belt, but one of them was mostly because of the exceptional Steelers defense.

Another quarterback ranked in the top 10 is Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, who in three years of play has not come close to the statistical stature of Romo, and also has never won a playoff game in his career. Not to mention all three of these quarterbacks lost their respective games in week one, with Romo having the best statistical day of them all. All three of them played playoff-caliber teams, and only one of them even had their team within striking distance at the end of the game. That quarterback was Romo. Roethlisberger had a whopping five turnovers, and Ryan had a couple that led to defensive touchdowns. So why does Romo get labeled as the choke artist while the other two basically stay out of the critics’ way?  

What is happening here is just a general hatred for “America’s Team,” the Cowboys. Playing under owner Jerry Jones, who is not well-liked among opposing fan bases, along with being the star quarterback on one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, makes Romo an easy target for those who love to hide behind a Twitter account or a forum screen name. They don’t want to see the Cowboys succeed, so they bash Romo and label him a choker, hoping that so many people will follow suit and get in Romo’s head. Up until now, it looks like these internet trolls have succeeded. Since that infamous botched hold on an easy game-winning field goal against the Seahawks in a 2007 playoff game followed by a dejected post-game interview, people have seen Romo as someone they could bring down with them as their teams also fail to win a Super Bowl. This is the world we live in today, and it’s sad to see a player of Romo’s caliber being so affected by the media.  

 Looking back at the week-one game, I’ll agree that Romo’s mistakes were awful and cost his team the game. However, the other three quarters were as good as any quarterback could play against one of the league’s top secondaries, and any fan can attest to that. Also, why doesn’t anyone look at the blocked punt that directly led to the New York Jets tying the score at 24? Or how about when star wide receiver Dez Bryant found out that his conditioning wasn’t up to par as he began to cramp up at the beginning of the third quarter? This was a team effort in the loss, not just Romo’s fault. I agree that the quarterback takes the most responsibility for a team loss, as he is the most important person on the field, and Romo needs to do better in the fourth quarter. Romo understands this and hears the critics. Now it is up to him to silence them, and I predict he’ll do an excellent job of that this season.