IRVING, Texas --Disappointed his team "went the other way" in December/January rather than peaking at the right time, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cited Eli Manning's elevated play as a chief reason for the Giants' Super Bowl run. That wasn't a slight toward Tony Romo, because Jones said Romo played at an ultra-competitive level this season.
If anything, Jones suggested his quarterback covered up some deficiencies on the offensive line.
The line did play well at times in pass protection and the run game, which slightly improved in total yardage in 2011. Certain individual players, like rookie right tackle Tyron Smith, took steps forward.
Yet Romo was still sacked 36 times, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL. Here's the list, including this year's Super Bowl quarterbacks Manning and Tom Brady:
- Alex Smith (44)
- Tarvaris Jackson (42)
3T. Blaine Gabbert (40)
3T. Ben Roethlisberger (40)
- Mark Sanchez (39)
6T. Sam Bradford (36)
6T. Matt Moore (36)
6T. Aaron Rodgers (36)
6T. Tony Romo (36)
6T. Matthew Stafford
T13. Tom Brady (32)
21. Eli Manning (28)
Sacks aren't even the sole measure for pass protection. Sure, it was apparent Manning got his faced kicked in last Sunday based on the 49ers' five sacks. But what about the beating Romo took from San Francisco in Week 2? What about the hits? He was sacked only once, and his rib fracture didn't occur on that play.
It's a very misleading stat. Like Manning and some others -- Rodgers, Smith and Cam Newton -- Romo extends plays with his ability to scramble and slide in the pocket. The Cowboys can't afford for him to do that so often.
"We were like 10th in protecting him relative to the sack stat," Jones said. "We need to be better than that because he helped us protect him a little bit with his ability to move around. We need to do better there."