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NFC East: In Which The Giants Debunk The December Myth
You’re going to hear a lot about Tony Romo’s December performances now that we’ve entered into the final month of the season.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones embraced the talking points Tuesday morning when he told 105.3 The Fan that Romo needed to up his game as the Cowboys prepare for yet another home stretch with the playoffs in sight.
It’s true Romo and the Cowboys have fallen short on the last night of the season in back-to-back years. It’s true Romo threw three picks in last year’s finale against Washington, and it’s true he has an 11-15 record as a starter in December games.
As fun as it is to assign team records to individual players, I’m a bit dubious of the distinction. I wanted to take a closer look.
Fortunately for my cause, there’s an incredibly similar – albeit recently more successful – franchise right within the Cowboys’ division.
Since 2007, when the Cowboys tied their franchise record for wins and the Giants were the division wildcard, the records have been similar.
Each club has won two division titles in those six years. Each club has had one wildly successful season – 2007 for Dallas, 2008 for New York – amid a handful of middling records. The Giants are 58-38 in that span, while the Cowboys are 55-41.
The difference, obviously, is that New York’s three playoff appearances in that span have produced two Super Bowl titles. The Cowboys’ two playoff appearances have produced a 1-2 record, including a one-and-done run as the NFC’s No. 1 seed in that 2007 campaign – the loss coming to the Giants, no less.
Anyway, I’m getting slightly off track.
Much like the teams they quarterback for, Romo and Eli Manning have plenty of similarities – from career numbers to the amount of publicity they garner.
In 42 more career starts, Manning has 5,645 more passing yards, just 25 more touchdowns, 64 more interceptions and a career completion percentage more than six points below Romo’s.
Of course, Manning also has two Super Bowl MVPs and seven more playoff wins.
Finally, the payoff: despite the pedigree of five playoff trips, eight playoff wins and two championships, Manning’s December record is a ho-hum 19-22.
His 2007 effort saw the Giants jump to a 6-2 start before starting to 9-5, ultimately claiming two wild card spots. They posted a 2-2 effort in December, as did the 2011 edition before taking a January winner-take-all game against Romo and the Cowboys.
There’s more to it than personal performance, I guess is my point. Romo’s touchdown-to-interception ratio in December is a healthy 45:26 during his career as a starter, with 19 of those picks coming between 2006-08.
The ratio improves 31:7 from 2009 to 2012.
Clearly, there’s more here than quarterback performance. If Romo plays the same style of effective, mistake-free football he’s displayed this season, it should be enough.
Whether it produces a memorable or disappointing December is up to more people than just him.