Gavin Dawson for 105.3 The Fan | CBSDFW.COM
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys gestures against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Tony Romo 4th quarter debate requires context.

His stats are amazing but the results aren’t.   How can both things be true?   It’s my theory that he caves under pressure, and I decided to look at every 4th quarter from the 8-8 2012 season to test it.

What I found stinks for the Cowboys and their fans and brings into question the wisdom of giving him big money.

In a game they are trailing by a score, he’s good.  In a game they are trailing by more than once score, he’s fantastic.  In a game they are tied or leading in, he is absolutely incapable of either giving them the lead or putting the game out of reach.

I think the cowboys can win one with Romo, but the rest of the team has to be so good, that he doesn’t have to deal with pressure.  Good luck with that in any era of the NFL.

Because Romo apologists like to fight the clutch debate with stats I will leave you with two before you read the following breakdown of the 2012 season.

#1-In the first 12 minutes of 4th quarters, Romo’s Total QBR (ESPN’s proprietary QB rating) is 80.  In the final 3 minutes it’s 44.

#2-Tony Romo has more 4th quarter interceptions when the game is tied or the Cowboys are up by a touchdown or less than any other QB since 2006.

He is simply not good when there’s something to lose.

Week 1 at  Giants.

Cowboys up 17-10 going into the final quarter.  No pressure on Tony.   Romo and Murray combine for a great 7 minute drive that leaves them up 2 TDs.

Giants get the ball back score a TD.

With the game on the line and 2:36 to play, the Cowboys went with Murray on back to back runs.   Then got a 13 yard completion to Ogletree to seal the game.  That’s about as clutch as it gets for a few months.

Week 2 at Seattle.

No contest.  Pressure was not a factor except for the fact that it was the first game in Seattle since the playoff disaster.   Tony was terrible, posting a 74.1 passer rating for the game.

Week 3 vs. Tampa Bay.

The cowboys lead 10-7 going into the final quarter.    With no pressure on him early, Romo drove the Cowboys for a FG and they lead 13-7.

The Cowboys got it back with ten minutes to play, did nothing.

They got it back again a few minutes later, and thankfully Dez Bryant returned the punt to the 6 yard line.   Hey, what’s this?  A chance to put it away.   No touchdown. Bailey FG, 16-7.

Tampa got the ball back and kicked a FG, but the onside kick was no good.  Game over.

Cowboys win because Romo didn’t have to deal with pressure late.

Week 4 vs. Chicago.

Cowboys trying to go 3-1.  Romo threw 5 picks.  They’ve only been 3-1 once with him under center.

Week 5  Bye.

Week  6 at Baltimore.

Cowboys go to to the fourth down 24-20.

At the 13:29 Dez Bryant returned a punt to the Ravens 37.  With a chance to swing momentum, the Cowboys get a FG and trail  24-23.

The Ravens get the ball back and score a TD to go up 8.

This is where the theory that Romo is awesome with nothing to lose, really shines.

81 yards and a TD.   But, they go for 2.  Presure back on Romo.  Incomplete to Bryant.

Dallas got the ball back on an onside kick, Romo gained 20 yards, but left the team on the edge of FG range and Bailey missed.

Week 7 at Carolina.  

If it wasn’t for the referees missing 12 man on the field, and obvious PI on Mo Claiborne, Romo’s inability to put the Panthers away could have cost them.

The Boys had a chance to get a TD and put the game away with one minute to go, instead settling for Bailey’s 4th FG of the game.

Week 8 vs. Giants.

Cowboys go to the 4th up 24-23.   Giants FG makes it 26-24.

Another FG made it 29-24.

Down 5, needing a TD with 3:31 to play Romo drives the Cowboys down to the Giants 19 yard line where he gets picked on 4th and 1.

Cowboys got the ball back with :41 seconds to play and gained 80 yaards but couldn’t score in part because Dez Bryant’s finger was out of bounds.

Week 9 at Atlanta

Teams go to the fourth tied at 6. 

Falcons score to go up 13-6.

Cowboys get the ball and do nothing.

Falcons get the ball back fg.  16-6.

The bad news is the Cowboys are down 10.   The good news for Tony is this is his time to shine.

78 yards on 6 plays.  TD.  16-13.  4th Quarter rating boosted.

falcons get the ball back.  FG to make it a 6 point game.

Pressure back on, Boys get 59 yards on 5 plays but somehow can’t find the end zone again.

Week 10 at PhillyTied 17 going to the 4th. 

Claiborne defensive TD.

Harris putn return TD

Hatcher defensive TD.

Cowboys win as Romo appeared to have a great game with a 122 rating, but did nothing to help them win in the fourth.  Again.

Week 11 vs. Cleveland.

Go to fourth quarter down 10.  

The pressure is off, and there goes Romo with a 10 play drive to get within 3.

Browns QB Brandon Weeden fumbles on the 16.  Easy TD.  Dallas leads 17-13.

Weeden fumbles again.  What do you think happens next?  Romo doesn’t put teams away, he fumbles the ball back!

Cleveland then goes 64 yards, go for it on the goal line and the Cowboys defense stops them.

Cowboys get the ball back, and do nothing.

Browns score a TD to go up 20-17.

With 1:07 to go, Cleveland has stunned Dallas.    But wait, Romo leads a great drive right?  Wrong.  35 yard penalty against the Browns.  Bailey FG ties it.

To start overtime, the Cowboys did nothing and punted.  Then Dwayne Harris won the game on a great punt return that setup another FG.

Go special teams and Dan Bailey!

Week 12 vs. Washington

This is a classic Tony Romo 4th quarter empty stat game

Skins made it 35-13 early in the fourth.

Romo took the Boys 88 yards in 3 minutes.  2 pt conversion, no pressure.  GOOD!

Peprah got a pick.  Ball at the Washington 18 yard line.   TD Cowboys.

35-28 with 8 minutes to go.   Washington got a Field goal.   With 3 minutes to go Dallas drove for a 51 yard FG but took up 2:41 in game clock.  And time ran out.  The stats look great though.

Week 13 vs. Eagles.

Cowboys almost lost to the Eagles again.  38-33 the final as Mo Claiborne once again finished what Tony started.   Fumble recovery for TD with 5 minutes to go.

Week 14 at the Bengals

I’ll give credit to Tony on this one.  After all those fourth quarter empty stats throughout the year, he leads the team on a 13 play, 50 yard drive for a game winning FG.

He also lead them to a TD with 10 minutes to go which kind of qualifies as a high pressure moment.

Week 15 vs. PittsburghAnother clutch win right?  Nope.

In the 4th quarter, Cowboys got the ball down a TD and needing to score.

They failed.   Had to punt.  Luckily A. Brown fumbled, cowboys got a short field and Murray ran it in.

The Steelers then punted on the next possession leaving the Boys with a chance to win it with three minutes to go.

They failed again.    Luckily Anthony Spencer stepped up and sakced Big Ben.

Dwayne Haris then returned the punt to midfield.

Romo and the Cowboys, in a tie game, failed again.

In overtime Brandon Carr picked a ball off and ran it back to the one yard line.   Bailey for the win.

Week 16 vs. the Saints

Down 7 in the fourth, another no lose situation for Romo.  Cowboys go on a great drive to tie it.

At the start of overtime, They do nothing, punt it, and the Saints win.  

Week 17 at Washington.

Interception, game over.

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