Sunday's NFL game between Denver and Dallas was an offensive showcase, to say the least. Peyton Manning, arguably the NFL's best quarterback of all time, passed for 414 yards and finished with 5 total touchdowns, 4 passing and 1 running. Overall, it was a fairly average day for Peyton, who is on-pace to obliterate all NFL quarterback single-season records.
However, Peyton Manning was not the best quarterback in Sunday's epic match-up. Tony Romo, perhaps the league's most hated and criticized quarterback, completed 25 of 36 passes for 506 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Romo's performance was 49 yards shy of breaking the all-time NFL record for yards passed in a single game (Romo's effort ranks 12th all-time). It was the first time a Dallas Cowboy's quarterback had thrown for over 500 yards, and also only the 5th time in NFL history that a quarterback had thrown for 500 yards and 5 TD's. Romo was also the first quarterback to throw for 500 yards with 36 or fewer attempts.
Even after this performance, Romo still has his naysayers. Following the game, people took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with another Cowboy's loss. A grand majority of the comments are those that have been oft-repeated concerning Romo, but here is one gem from comedian Jim Norton:
The outrage from fans comes from Romo's history of choking in prime-time. Thus far in his 8 seasons as a starting-quarterback for the Cowboys, Romo has not been able to lead his team to a Super Bowl - a fact that is not acceptable for the fans of the storied Dallas program. Not only has Romo failed to win it all, he has failed to lead his team to victory in many fourth quarter situations, such as the game last year against the Redskins in which Romo had a chance to lead Dallas to victory and clinch the NFC East title.
Despite the public calls for Romo's head, Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones still stands by his quarterback: "Tony played the best game that I’ve ever seen him play in his career, not only from the standpoint of how he executed, not only how he created plays but his leadership. That was unfortunate that it came down to that at the end, but you can see the very best over on the other side of the ball, it can happen to them, too."
Jones even went as far as to compare Romo to Broncos's legend, John Elway: “The guy standing over on the other sideline or up in the box, John Elway, had those things said about him his entire career. He was a great player and we all know that, and he ultimately got his Super Bowls and they don’t say that about him any more.”
Perhaps a Super Bowl victory is exactly what it will take for Cowboy's fans to stop hating on Romo. Their vitriolic attitudes cannot possibly stem from Romo's average performances; Romo consistently ranks as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league and has an above-average DVOA (a measure of per-play efficiency).
Based on Romo's numbers throughout his career, Cowboys fans should probably look toward other areas of deficiencies with the Dallas organization. Romo found himself having to make such a desperate throw late in the game on Sunday due to the previous play, in which he was sacked and lost 6 yards. Maybe the offensive line needs to be restructured? Or perhaps the blame should be shouldered upon the defense, who gave up an awful-lot of points (51 to be specific). While the Cowboys's secondary did catch the first interception from Peyton Manning on the year, it was more due to a poor throw from Manning, himself, than due to great defense from the Cowboys.
In sports we have a tendency to criticize and condemn the leader and constantly forget about the supporting cast. It is fairly evident that Romo was not to blame for Sunday's loss. If the fans would start shouting their displeasure about the Cowboys's play-calling or defensive effort, perhaps Romo would have some of the pressure taken off his shoulders and perform to his potential. After all, it is hard to throw while carrying the weight of an entire Texas-sized fan-hate on one's shoulders.
Image via Twitter