Tony Romo is a perfect as example of where perception and truth are miles apart.
Ask most NFL fans if Romo is a clutch quarterback and the majority of answers would be negative.
But the truth is that Romo has the second-highest fourth quarter quarterback rating in NFL history (102.0) and holds the franchise record for comeback victories in the fourth quarter or overtime.
The former is better than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Dan Marino among others.
The latter is better than Cowboys Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.
In fact, few players have been better in late game situations than Romo, which he proved again in miraculous fashion in leading the Cowboys to a 27-26 comeback victory against the New York Giants in the season opener for both team.
Romo rallied the Cowboys from a 10-point deficit with two touchdowns to tight end Jason Witten in the final five minutes including the game winner with 13 seconds left.
It’s Romo’s 24th comeback victory in the fourth quarter or overtime and it has the Cowboys 1-0.
Owner Jerry Jones said there no other quarterback he would rather have in that situations.
"Not me. No. Not the Cowboys," Jones said. No. We’ve got the guy we want and he did a great job. It shows you his competitiveness. It was as loud and clear as I’ve ever seen it. I don’t know if we’ve seen a better competitor. He just has a will to step out there and win. If you can get him within distance he’s a threat to win every time."
Everybody in the giddy Cowboys lockeroom echoed similar thoughts after the game.
"Romo is one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the game,” safety Barry Church said. “He’s going to lead us to victory. I wouldn’t rather have any guy back there than him."
Said cornerback Morris Claiborne: "Romo being who he is, we expect that from him. He went down and got it done."
Romo’s comeback performance helped the Cowboys overcome three turnovers in the game, including two of his interceptions.
The first was a bad pass that tipped off the hands of Witten. The second came as a result of a drop by receiver Devin Street. It was knocked out of his hands and into the hands of cornerback Trumaine McBride.
But Romo was at his best when it mattered most. He completed 11 of 12 passes on the final two drives, including five of six on the game winner.
The Cowboys defense set up comeback by holding the Giants to a field goal after letting them get a first down and 4.
“The guy has been unbelievable from Day 1 since I got here,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “Unbelievable player, unbelievable leader. We knew if we gave him the ball back, we had a great shot of him taking it all the way down the field and that’s typical tony. That’s a guy who can make a ton of plays.”
The last pass came on a bad snap from center Travis Frederick yet Romo was undeterred and in a zone.
He did it all with the team’s best receiver Dez Bryant in the locker room because of a fractured bone in his foot.
”He was fantastic,” gushed coach Jason Garrett. “He has great poise. He has a great understanding about what he wants to do. His patience was outstanding. The defense gets on their heels and he does a really good job just making the play, making the play, making the play, not making the bad play and obviously cashing in at the end. The big throw to [Jason] Witten, the touch was unbelievable. Tremendous amount of confidence in that huddle, and a lot of it comes from the confidence the quarterback projects to the team. Everybody responded the right way.”
“It’s easy when you’re in that situation down two scores in the middle of the fourth quarter, it’s easy to get out of whack,” Garrett said. “It’s easy to get a little impatient, try to do too much, but I thought he did a really good job maintaining his poise, his discipline, throwing to the right guy. He made a lot of big plays, now you come back and you trust your defense to give you another chance, and obviously the last drive was really remarkable.”