Commentary

Romo's great stats don't add up to W's

Updated: December 17, 2009, 6:16 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo doesn't care that his individual statistics this December are impressive.

"It doesn't matter. It's only about winning," Romo said while sitting in front of his locker Thursday. "If I perform poorly this week and we win, it's a lot better than performing well and losing.

"This position is completely judged almost solely on winning and losing. That's the great thing about this sport. We put so much stock in that. I enjoy that, too. It should be that way."

Romo played well enough in the first two games this month to give the Cowboys a chance to win. But losses to the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers have put the 8-5 Cowboys' playoff hopes in jeopardy entering Saturday night's date with the undefeated New Orleans Saints.

The first back-to-back losses of the Cowboys' season drops Romo's career record in December to 5-10.

While Dallas' December struggles date back more than a decade, Romo has shouldered a large share of the blame since becoming the starter in 2006. His stats had plummeted in the regular season's final month. In his first three Decembers under center for the Cowboys, Romo had a dismal quarterback rating of 71.9, more interceptions (19) than touchdown passes (14) and another five turnovers on fumbles.

But the Cowboys certainly aren't losing because of Romo. His quarterback rating in the two losses was 111.9, which would rank behind only New Orleans' Drew Brees for the season. Romo passed for 641 yards and five touchdowns in the two games, including a career-high 392 yards in the loss at Giants Stadium, and did not commit a turnover.

The stats were padded by meaningless touchdown drives that ended with seconds remaining in both losses -- accounting for 168 passing yards -- but they're impressive nonetheless.

"He's made some plays with his feet and with his arm," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He's eliminated the bad play and done a great job taking care of the ball."

However, Garrett acknowledged that finding ways to win games is the most important part of Romo's job description. Romo accepts that.

"From your own perspective, you always feel like you can do more," Romo said. "The thing I learned a while back is that human nature, when you're losing, it should be to always look and say, 'What am I not doing enough of?' Because it's obviously got to be something, because you're losing."

Romo declined to discuss what answers he came up with, but there are some obvious examples of plays he could have made to help the Cowboys win in the past two weeks.

With about four minutes remaining against the Giants, Romo overthrew Roy Williams down the right sideline after the cornerback slipped to the turf. It would have been a walk-in touchdown that trimmed New York's lead to seven points, giving the Cowboys a chance to send the game into overtime if the defense stopped the Giants.

Against the Chargers, Romo completed only one of six passes on third downs. That included a pair of incompletions that forced the Cowboys to settle for field goal attempts, one of which Nick Folk missed just before halftime.

"There's a lot of plays the last two weeks he feels good about," Garrett said. "There are some that he can do better, just like everybody."

The blame for the Cowboys' December losses doesn't fall on Romo's shoulders, but the responsibility for righting a ship that appears on the verge of sinking does.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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