Romo-Manning comparison a matter of inches

All due respect to Amani Toomer, but you can’t make a rational case right now that Tony Romo is a better quarterback than Eli Manning.

Not as long as Manning has more Super Bowl rings than Romo has playoff wins.

Romo has said repeatedly in recent years that quarterbacks are ultimately judged by championships. He’s right.

But that doesn’t mean that Dan Marino should be excluded in conversations about the all-time greats, but his lack of titles can certainly be used as a tiebreaker when comparing him to his peers. As is the case in the Romo-Eli debate, even though the same logic doesn’t apply when comparing, say, DeMarcus Ware and Justin Tuck.

Just don’t make the case that Manning is far superior to Romo, who has the edge in the majority of statistical categories. It’s really a matter of inches.

Take a look at two plays in particular, a couple of crucial Romo incompletions that Manning watched from the sideline. Manning might be perceived as a choker, not praised as a champion, if Romo’s receivers executed properly on these plays.

What if Patrick Crayton doesn’t hesitate at the top of his route on a throw to the end zone late in the top-seeded Cowboys’ 2007 playoff loss to the Giants? If Crayton catches that pass – and he did have a critical third-down drop earlier in the game – Manning’s season would have ended in Texas Stadium instead of with a Super Bowl upset of the previously undefeated Patriots.

What if Miles Austin bent his route inside as much as he should have on a potential dagger deep ball against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium last season? The Cowboys would have won the NFC East, meaning the Giants would have missed the playoffs instead of making a stunning run to their second Super Bowl title in five years.

Of course, those plays didn’t go the Cowboys’ way. Romo wasn’t to blame in either case, but that doesn’t change the results.

Manning has the rings. He has to get the nod as the NFC East’s best quarterback. But a couple of plays could have completely changed the conversation.