Quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys talks with Eli Manning of the New York Giants after a game at Cowboys Stadium on October 25 2010 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
By now I'm sure you have heard about the comments by former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer calling Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys a better quarterback than the Giants Eli Manning, whom Toomer used to play with.
I'm sure by now you have also gotten angry about them, shrugged your shoulders in disbelief, maybe uttered a few obscenities about Toomer and his analytical 'skills,' etc. In other words, I'm sure you have formed your opinion of what the well-dressed Amani had to say.
If you haven't seen it, and to frame my own commentary, here is what Toomer said.
"Tony Romo is probably, if you look at it statistically, he's probably the best quarterback in the NFC East," Toomer said. "You look at Eli Manning and what he does in the fourth quarter, but you talk about consistency, talking about 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions, that guy can play."
He also added:
"I'm talking about, for me, if I wanted a guy that is going to throw less interceptions and be more productive, higher completion percentage, I'm going to go with Tony Romo," Toomer said. "At crunch time he's not as good as Eli but every other time he's pretty darn good," Toomer said.
Let me say this. Toomer is entitled to his opinion, just like folks here are entitled to voice dissenting opinions -- provided they do it sensibly and back up said opinion, not just vitriol.
Let me also say this. Toomer is right when he says of Romo "that guy can play." Hate on him or the Cowboys all you want Romo is a very good, top 10-caliber NFL quarterback. If you were a fan of the team he played for you would defend him fiercely, as many Cowboys fans do.
Toomer is also right that, throughout their careers, Romo has posted slightly better passing statistics than Manning. Which matters if you are choosing a quarterback for your Fantasy Football team. It also matters if you are a former Giants' wide receiver who played with Eli when he was young and erratic, and you have said in the past you had to be an "acrobat" to catch his fluttering passes.
NFL quarterbacks are, ultimately, not judged by their passing stats, however. They are judged by what their teams have won, and how much they have done to contribute to said winning.
On that score, we all know this is not even a debate worth the time I am lending it. At this point in their relatively parallel careers the winning -- the only thing that REALLY matters -- belongs to Manning.
Romo in the playoffs: 1-3 record, 59.3 percent completion rate, 80.8 passer rating. Those last two numbers, incidentally, are well below his career 64.5 completion percentage of 64.5 and his passer rating of 96.9.
The rap on Romo is that he has not yet won the big one. More damning, his performance in the biggest games has been part of the reason his team did not win. Romo has 13 fourth-quarter comebacks and 14 game-winning drives in his career.
Yet, there are many examples of where, needing one play or one big performance to lift his team, Romo has come up short. Remember the 2007 botched snap. There was 2008 against the Giants when he threw an interception to the Giants' R.W. McQuarters in the closing moments of the Giants' 21-17 victory. There are other examples, including last December against the Giants when Romo missed a wide open Miles Austin on a pass that would have resulted in a long, game-clinching touchdown for Dallas that would have propelled them to the playoffs and left the Giants without an invitation. Instead, the Cowboys went home and the Giants hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
Romo is terrific quarterback. He can make all the throws. He can move in the pocket. He has done everything in the NFL a quarterback needs to do to be recognized as great -- except make the biggest of plays at the most critical of times. That, of course, being the playoff and Super Bowl stages.
Manning in the playoffs: 8-3 record, two Super Bowl titles, two Super Bowl MVPs, two Super Bowl-winning last-minute drives. In terms of pure numbers, a completion percentage of 61.5 and a passer rating of 89.3, both up from his regular season numbers of 58.4 percent completions and a passer rating of 82.1
Manning has made the plays that had to be made at the times when they make the most difference. The play to David Tyree in the 2008 Super Bowl and the game-winning throw to Plaxico Burress. The perfect throw to Mario Manningham that started the 2012 game-winning drive.
This is the thing that matters when you talk about Romo vs. Manning. Winning.
When Romo's team does it, and he is the biggest reason for it as Manning has been twice now, then this is a discussion worth having. Until then? Not so much.