IRVING, Texas --Got one game to win. Who's your quarterback, Tony Romo or Eli Manning?
It's a pretty good debate, even with Manning's two Super Bowl titles casting a long shadow over Romo's single playoff win. They're both big-armed, elusive, savvy quarterbacks who have made a conscious effort over the years to become less turnover-prone.
Even their statistics are similar. Romo has a 64.5 completion percentage with 20,799 yards, 148 touchdowns and 72 interceptions in 77 career starts. Manning: 58.5 completion percentage with 27,513 yards, 185 touchdowns and 129 interceptions in 119 career starts.
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks breaks down the matchup into five categories: Arm Talent (Advantage: Romo), Mobility (Advantage: Romo), Game Management (Advantage: Manning), Leadership (Advantage: Manning) and Clutch Factor (Advantage: Manning).
Brooks picks Manning by a hair based on this conclusion:
*The debate between Romo and Manning puts evaluators in a quandary when deciding whether to value raw talent and production over intangibles and postseason success. While Romo certainly possesses the skill set to guide a team to a championship, the fact that he hasn't been able to get the Cowboys over the hump prevents me from placing him above Manning. The reigning Super Bowl MVP has emerged as one of the league's best quarterbacks in the clutch, and his ability to win big games earns him the nod, despite the disparity in talent.
There's no denying Manning has emerged as perhaps the league's best clutch quarterback because of what he's accomplished in the biggest games (two gritty NFC Championship wins at Green Bay and San Francisco, followed by fourth-quarter winning drives in two Super Bowls against Tom Brady's Patriots). Then again, Romo's career fourth-quarter passer rating ranks right at the top.
Brooks also points out a misconception about Romo's game management:
*Romo has been taken to task for his untimely turnovers, but a closer look suggests that he is one of the game's best quarterbacks when it comes to ball security. Since tossing a career-worst 19 interceptions in 2007, Romo has kept his turnovers in check by routinely resisting the temptation to force the ball into traffic. As a result, he has maintained an interception rate below two percent in his each of his past two full seasons, which is impressive considering he attempted 520-plus passes in each year.
*Turnovers have been a problem for Manning, too. As for leadership, one can argue that players are labeled leaders when they win big. Until then, it always seems to be an arguable trait, and it certainly has been in Romo's case. This is a team game, after all.
Let the debate continue below.