Examining Tony Romo under pressure

The reputation of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo says he's got the ability to make plays when the pocket breaks down -- to escape pressure put on him by the defense and keep the play alive longer than most quarterbacks do. But as Calvin Watkins points out here, with the help of ESPN Stats & Information, the numbers tell a couple of different stories on that:

According to ESPN's Stats and Information, Romo was fourth in the NFL with 505 yards outside the pocket and was tied for the lead with seven touchdown passes. Romo, who completed 56.7 percent of his passes outside the pocket last season, had a 116.3 quarterback rating. He also threw just one interception.

However, when Romo is rushed by five or more defenders he's tied with the New York Jets Mark Sanchez for the league lead with eight interceptions. Romo made 206 pass attempts against five or more defenders last season and finished third in the NFL with 1,443 yards.

The Cowboys' offense line gets criticized for its struggles in pass protection. Romo was sacked 13 times when faced with five or more defenders, 12th most in the NFL.

So what the numbers appear to show is that Romo is very good at avoiding sacks (especially for someone who has to do it as often as he does), but that he doesn't excel at making the best decisions in the world when the play breaks down. He's liable to hit a big play, sure, but he's also as liable as anyone in the league to throw an interception against the blitz. He might need to throw the ball away more than he does in those spots.

Not sure how much of this comes as a huge surprise to anyone, but it's interesting to check out the numbers that underlie Romo's reputation as a quarterback who can make a play when his protection breaks down.