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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
How does Tony Romo perform under duress?

By Calvin Watkins

One of Tony Romo's strengths is his ability to make plays under duress. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback's ability to move away from trouble makes him one of the best players at his position.

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Or does it?

According to ESPN's Stats and Information, Romo was fourth in the NFL with 505 yards outside the pocket and was tied for the lead with seven touchdown passes. Romo who completed 56.7 percent of his passes outside the pocket last season for a 116.3 quarterback rating. He also threw just one interception.

However, when Romo was rushed by five or more defenders, he was tied with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for a league-worst eight interceptions. Romo made 206 pass attempts against five or more defenders last season and finished third in the NFL with 1,443 yards.

The Cowboys' offensive line gets criticized for its struggles in pass protection. Romo was sacked 13 times when faced with five or more defenders, 12th-most in the NFL. That's not bad.

How a quarterback performs under pressure can make or break games and, eventually, seasons. While Romo has shown he can make plays on the run, sometimes he has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. According to Pro Football Focus, Romo threw the ball away 13 times in 2012.

I would think that number would be higher, given how Romo was rushed at least 200 times last season. I understand Jerry Jones wanting the Cowboys to use Romo's ability to dodge defenders more, but when Romo does that, it's only because there was a breakdown somewhere once the play started.

One of Romo's biggest strengths is eluding pressure to make throws all over the field. The Cowboys believe Romo is an elite quarterback, and his numbers under duress give them confidence in that belief.

Can he keep that up in 2013?