De­spite rack­ing up im­pres­sive num­bers, Tony Romo is more fo­cused on get­ting wins

QB, among elite, wants suc­cess for team

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Tony Romo has ac­com­plished so much as an NFL quar­ter­back in such a short pe­riod of time.

Romo went to the Pro Bowl as a first-year starter with the Cow­boys in 2006. He set a fran­chise record for touch­down passes in 2008 with 36, then es­tab­lished the fran­chise mark for pass­ing yards in 2009 with 4,483.

Romo fi­nally has thrown the nec­es­sary 1,500 passes to qual­ify for the NFL ca­reer pass­ing list and de­buts in 2010 as the third-most ef­fi­cient quar­ter­back in his­tory — ahead of Pey­ton Man­ning, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Joe Mon­tana and Drew Brees.

And we still haven’t seen the best of Tony Romo. But we have a chance to this sea­son.

The Cow­boys have sur­rounded Romo with the most tal­ented sup­port­ing cast of his five-year ten­ure.

Tight end Ja­son Wit­ten, wide re­ceivers Miles Austin and Roy Wil­liams, and half­back Mar­ion Bar­ber have been to the Pro Bowl. Run­ning back Felix Jones, tight end Martel­lus Ben­nett and wide re­ceiver Dez Bryant were pre­mium draft choices with Pro Bowl traits.

There may not be a deeper cast of play­mak­ers any­where in the NFL. Romo’s cast is deeper in quan­tity than those that won Su­per Bowls with Roger Staubach at the helm in the 1970s and with Troy Aikman at the helm in the 1990s.

So Romo could be in a po­si­tion to bat­ter his own fran­chise records and chal­lenge a few NFL marks as well. But that may not be the path Romo and the Cow­boys choose to fol­low if they hope to re­main home in Fe­bru­ary to play the Su­per Bowl on their home field. His­tory has not been kind to the great pass­ing teams of the mod­ern era.

The NFL’s No. 1 pass­ing team has played for a cham­pi­onship only five times in Su­per Bowl his­tory: the 1984 Mi­ami Dol­phins, 1999 and 2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002 Oak­land Raiders and 2007 New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots.

Those teams went 1-4 in Su­per Bowls, and the 1999 ti­tle game ended with Ten­nessee on the St. Louis 1yard line. So the No. 1-ranked pass­ing of­fenses are 1 yard shy of pos­si­bly be­ing win­less in Su­per Bowls.

In each of those five cases, the quar­ter­back of that top-ranked pass­ing at­tack was the league MVP: Dan Marino in 1984, Warner in 1999 and 2001, Rich Gan­non in 2002 and Brady in 2007.

Marino set the NFL record for pass­ing yards with 5,084 in 1984, and Brady set the league mark for touch­down passes with 50 in 2007. But nei­ther has a Su­per Bowl ring to show for those sea­sons.

For all of his pass­ing yards and touch­downs in the last decade, Man­ning has only one Su­per Bowl ring to show for his arm. Brett Favre also has man­aged to win only one ring in his 19 sea­sons, and Ma-Marino never won any.

If Romo’s play­mak­ers all match their ca­reer years in 2010, the Cow­boys’ of­fense will have 350 re­cep­tions, 4,594 yards and 31 touch­downs in the bank. And that doesn’t in­clude any­thing from the rookie Bryant, who could push this of­fense into the strato­sphere with his play-play­mak­ing abil­ity.

So 400 com­ple­tions, 5,000 yards and 40 touch­downs could all be within Romo’s reach in 2010. All of his play­mak­ers are in their 20s — still young enough to have those ca­reer sea­sons.

Romo turned 30 this year. He’s grown as a passer and ma­tured as a leader in his 55 ca­reer starts. He re­al­izes the Cow­boys — and the 2010 sea­son — are not about Tony Romo.

“At the end of the day, win­ning is what counts at my po­si­tion,” Romo said. “As I get older, it doesn’t mat­ter to me if I throw for 100 yards a game or 400 if we win. You’re a far bet­ter quar­ter­back when you throw for 150 yards and win than when you throw for 320 and lose. Stats are just stats.”

The Cow­boys fin­ished sixth in the NFL in pass­ing last sea­son, win­ning the NFC East and ad­vanc­ing to the semi­fi­nal round of the play­offs. Romo is more concerned with tak­ing the next step col­lec­tively as a team than in­di­vid­u­ally.

“Two of my fa­vorites were Magic John­son and Larry Bird,” Romo said. “They were self­less with the way they played. They could have eas­ily av­er­aged an­other five to 10 points per game if they had wanted to, but I don’t know that they would have achieved their team goals.

“For my per­spec­tive, (statis­tics) are some­thing that kind of just hap­pen in the process of win­ning or in an ef­fort to be the best you can be.”

Donna McWil­liam as­so­cI­ateD Press

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