- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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"I have always liked Romo, but his play in the final regular season game of the 2012 season with the NFC East title on the line still bothers me. You just can’t make mistakes, regardless of whose fault it is. It was the fourth quarter interception with three-and-one-half minutes remaining and the Cowboys trailing by three. That I just can’t forget. You can’t make a throw with no definition in that particular situation, regardless of the pressure.
“Then I look at Romo one week earlier. Two big-time drives in the final five minutes against the Saints, tying the game with 21 seconds remaining. Back-to-back weeks, two different Romos. Those kinds of peaks and valleys is why Romo is No. 15 on my board. I love his talent, and there’s no doubt perception has overtaken reality in the negative world view of Romo, but I would like to see more overall consistency in his play. He’s capable of it.”
Now, you can argue that Jaws has Romo too low on his list. I personally feel he does. But what you can't argue is that Romo has himself to blame for the fact that this can still be the reason for downgrading him on a list like this. All of the things people say in support of Romo are true. He succeeds in spite of a rotten offensive line, makes plays other quarterbacks can't make when the play breaks down. The one-playoff-win thing can't be laid entirely at his feet. He led the Cowboys back from behind over and over again last year in real games that counted in the standings in order just to get them into that division title game in Washington. All of that is true.
But it's also true that he threw the three interceptions in that game, after a half-season in which his interception problem had lay dormant. And it's true that this is the one consistent thing that keeps Romo from the top level of rankings like this -- his maddening tendency to make mistakes in these big moments and big games. It is the one thing about his game that he needs to correct if he's to be ranked among the great quarterbacks in the game today, and even if such rankings don't matter to him, it's fair to say that correcting this issue would help him and the Cowboys attain the heights for which they strive.
So you can disagree with Jaws here, as I do. But as we have discussed here at length, one of Romo's biggest problems is that he continues to give his critics ammunition. If the whole world is sitting there waiting for you to throw three interceptions in the biggest game of the year so it can say, "See! I told you that guy was no good!", and you do it, then there's really not a lot you can say when they continue to underestimate you. Great as Romo has shown he can be, there's still too great a chance of his making a mistake at the worst possible time. Even his staunchest defenders can't deny this, especially not after that Washington game last year. The truly great quarterbacks are the ones we expect to succeed in the biggest spots. Romo's still a guy you fear will fail. And until he changes that, the people who want to rank him outside the top 10 for that reason are justified.