Perhaps the signature moment of Tony Romo's career is him fumbling the ball away on a potential go-ahead field goal late in his first playoff game against the Seahawks back in 2007.
Why, then, is Amani Toomer making the claim that Romo is the better quarterback?
The retired former New York Giants wide receiver recently made the understandably controversial claim that Romo, "if you look at him statistically, (is) the best quarterback in the NFC East" during a guest appearance on "Movin' the Chains," a talk show on SiriusXM's NFL Radio.
To the degree that Toomer is speaking about statistics, he does have a point.
Romo's career passer rating, a sterling 96.9, ranks second all-time between those of Aaron Rodgers and Steve Young. Manning's, a rather pedestrian 82.1, ranks 41st between Matt Hasselbeck and Ken Anderson.
In most other statistical categories, Romo holds an edge. Average passing yards per season: 3,472 to 3,447 in favor of Romo. Average touchdowns per season: 25 to 23 in favor of Romo. Average interceptions per season: 12 to 16, again in favor of Romo. And finally, career completion percentage: You guessed it, 64.5 to 58.4 in favor of Romo.
In fairness to Manning, it should be said that — with the exception of being benched for Kurt Warner during his rookie season — he has been the starter ever since he forced his way out of San Diego after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2004. Romo, meanwhile, had the luxury of spending three years learning from the Cowboys' various other starting quarterbacks before ascending to the starting job himself in 2006.
Even given that, it's still hard to argue with Toomer's claim from a statistical point of view. However, evaluating quarterbacks in this day and age is not predicated solely on numbers.
If Romo were a running back, Toomer's claim would be perfectly valid. But Romo is a quarterback, and because quarterbacks — unless they have mind-boggling numbers like Dan Marino — are ultimately judged on their postseason success, it's incorrect to call Romo a better quarterback than Manning.
All Manning has done in the past four years is win two Super Bowls — both of which were won with late-game comebacks, and one of which was possibly the single greatest upset in sports history. The perceived importance of this achievement cannot be understated, as it had not a small amount of people wondering whether this vaulted Eli ahead of brother Peyton — one of the five greatest quarterbacks of all time — in the pantheon of signal-callers.
While the calls for Eli's now-supposed stone-cold lock for enshrinement in Canton are premature, it speaks to the importance postseason success holds in determining how good a quarterback is. Fairly or not, a quarterback is held responsible for his team's wins and losses, especially in the postseason. Eli is 8-3 in career postseason games. Romo is a measly 1-3.
Eli has also demonstrated a greater ability to lead his team in come-from-behind situations than Romo has. Last year alone, the youngest Manning engineered eight game-winning drives, including the playoffs. Romo put together only four.
Numbers are useful and say a good deal about a quarterback's skill, but they are not the end-all, be-all of how to judge one. Quarterbacks are remembered more for their victories than their stats, and because of this, Eli Manning is a better quarterback than Tony Romo.
That being said, he's still got some work to do to catch both his brother as well as Tom Brady.
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