Romo Or Manning?

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ROMO
MANNING

November shows his improvement

Fox By Ashley Fox
ESPN.com
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This is not a knock on Eli Manning. He has his ring, which means in the overall evaluation of which quarterback has had the better career -- Manning or Tony Romo -- Manning wins hands down.

Hardware matters.

But looking at the players right now, Romo gets the edge as the one who is having the better season. He is quietly having his best season as a pro. He has eliminated the costly mistakes that dogged him early in the year. He has a tremendous awareness in the pocket, and is able to buy time with his feet and then deliver the football on the run. Since throwing three interceptions against Detroit in Week 4, Romo has done a good job protecting the football and has only four picks in his past eight games.

Romo has always had a strong arm and has always been able to make every throw, but this season he is not trying to force the ball into double coverage or make something happen that is not there. He is playing safer, which means he is playing smarter.

Look at Romo's November. No one other than the peerless Aaron Rodgers had a better month. In wins over Seattle, Buffalo, Washington and Miami, Romo completed 68 percent of his passes and threw 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Romo threw six touchdown passes on throws of at least 15 yards, the highest total in the league during that stretch.

And Romo has adjusted to not having his best receiver, Miles Austin, who has missed six games this season, including the past four, with a left hamstring injury he suffered in training camp. Romo has thrown seven of his 22 touchdown passes this season to journeyman Laurent Robinson, Austin's replacement.

Unlike Manning, Romo has the benefit of playing on a balanced offense behind a respectable line that, for the most part, has kept him upright. Unlike Manning, Romo doesn't have to throw for 400 yards in order for the Cowboys to win. He has rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards and averaged 22.3 carries a game in November.

Romo needs to continue his stellar play through December and January. He is 8-11 for his career in those months, with only one playoff victory. Until he wins then, Manning will have the edge, no matter how well Romo is playing.

Ashley Fox covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

At his best in the fourth quarter

Clayton By John Clayton
ESPN.com
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I've had Eli Manning and Tony Romo on my list of elite quarterbacks for several years, but I've usually rated Romo over Manning.

This year, I've sided with Manning even though they're right next to each other in my rankings. What has put Manning over Romo this season has been his ability to command the fourth quarter.

In a season of fourth-quarter comebacks, Manning has been the best. Like Romo, he has four fourth-quarter comebacks. He has a total of five game-winning drives, one more than Romo. Romo might have tied Manning on Sunday had Jason Garrett not called timeout and wiped out Dan Bailey's game-winning field goal, but that is an argument for another time.

Statistically, Manning is the best fourth-quarter thrower in football.

In fourth quarters, Manning has a league-best 120.5 passer rating. He completes 67.2 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter, and his yards per attempt is at 9.6. He has 13 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. The next closest is Tom Brady at 10.

Eli is having a Peyton Manning-like season in the fourth quarter.

Even though the Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Eli was able to match Aaron Rodgers pass for pass in a great football game in which Rodgers got the last possession to get a game-winning field goal drive.

Manning and Romo will meet twice over the final four weeks of the season, but Manning enters these meetings with a little edge. He has won four of the past five games against Romo.

Both quarterbacks have made the best out of bad situations. Romo has a young offensive line. Manning has played behind an offensive line that got too old and now is filled with injuries. Both quarterbacks have missed key receivers because of injuries. Mario Manningham has been in and out of the lineup of late. Miles Austin has been in and out of the lineup for the Cowboys.

With a 6-6 record, Manning will have to play his best for the Giants to close the one-game advantage the Cowboys hold in the race for the NFC East title. During his Super Bowl season, Manning showed he has the ability to get hot at the right time. He's been hot most of this season.

Dallas' loss Sunday to the Cardinals -- no fault of Romo's, by the way -- gave the Giants a chance to climb back in the NFC East race. Manning's edge over Romo in my quarterback rankings isn't enough to favor the Giants over the Cowboys this Sunday, but Manning gives them a chance to win.

We'll see how both quarterbacks sort it out on the field Sunday night.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.