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Cutler-Romo comparisons are offensive to Tony

So there was Tony Romo, minding his own business, just a guy trying to make a living. And here came Donovan McNabb, out of nowhere (and also out of football), to drag Romo’s name into a discussion about Jay Cutler’s shortcomings before the Bears’ 41-28 loss to the Cowboys on Thursday night.

“He’s the Tony Romo of the Midwest,” the former Eagles quarterback proclaimed during a radio interview in October.

This is how you know things are bad in your life: Your name is evoked to describe someone else’s failings. To be the Tony Romo of the Midwest meant that Cutler was a big-armed underachiever who would always let his team down when it mattered. McNabb might as well have said of Cutler, “He’s the Titanic of the Great Lakes.’’

If I’m Romo, I’m hacked off because, if I know one thing in life, it’s that I’m a better quarterback than Cutler.

If I’m Cutler, I’m even more hacked off. After so many up-and-down, all-over-the-map performances, my inconsistency knows no equal. To be compared to Romo, who is amateur hour when it comes to falling short? Those are fighting words.

Cutler’s mediocrity doesn’t need a defender, but former Bears teammate Brian Urlacher came to his rescue Thursday in an interview on ESPN Radio. He reiterated his earlier statements that only Cutler’s contract ($54 million in guaranteed money), not his statistics, indicate he’s an elite quarterback.

That’s more like it.

“He hasn’t changed, that’s for sure,” Urlacher said.

No, he hasn’t. Cutler has been one of the big reasons the Bears have fared so poorly this season. They are all but out of the playoff picture, but there was a lot riding on Thursday night’s game with the Cowboys. Cutler and Romo went head-to-head at Soldier Field to try to establish who was the more unreliable quarterback.

And … nothing. At halftime, the Cowboys led 14-7, and neither Cutler nor Romo had an interception. Romo had 123 passing yards, Cutler 100. Boring.

I don’t think the career competition is close. My Dallas friends will argue that Romo is always good for some dumb, Romo-type interceptions at the worst possible moments. But I’ll see them that and raise them some of Cutler’s dumb, Cutler-type interceptions at the worst possible moments. I like my chances of losing.

The career numbers are in Romo’s favor as the better quarterback.

Record as a starter? Romo is 71-48. Cutler is 61-55.

Completion percentage? Romo’s is 64.9. Cutler’s is 61.7.

Touchdown passes/interceptions? Romo is 230/109. Cutler is 179-126.

Passer rating? Romo’s is 96.6. Cutler’s is 85.4.

Passing yards per game? Cutler’s average is 233.1. Romo’s is 219.6.

Cutler is not in the same league as Romo, other than the NFL. For all of Romo’s capriciousness, he’s not as careless with the ball as Cutler is. I’m thinking specifically of Cutler’s four-interception game in a loss at Green Bay in 2012. And the three-interception game he had later that season in Baltimore in which he finished with a 7.9 passer rating.

So, please, you Romo haters, don’t even try to bring that stuff in here.

It’s popular to rip him, especially on a national level. He has won just one playoff game, as has Cutler. But the only reason Romo gets this much scrutiny is because he plays for the Cowboys, who are still wildly popular nationally though no one is exactly sure why. ESPN devotes lots of time to LeBron James, Johnny Manziel, anything New York and Romo.

Anywhere else, he’s Matt Ryan and nobody cares.

But he’s in Dallas, and everything’s bigger there, we’re told. Romo had a huge game last season against the Broncos, outplaying Peyton Manning, but ended up throwing an interception that led to a field goal to give Denver a 51-48 victory. Big game, bigger failure.

But Cutler has gone beyond. And although I could be reading too much into it, that might be what McNabb was getting at back in October.

“We can talk about arm talent, we can talk about being able to throw a ball through a wall,’’ McNabb said. “He can put up 280, 340 yards passing, but you look across the board he’s got two interceptions in a game that cost them 14 points or so. That hurts a football team.

“Can he play in this league? Absolutely, he’s proven that. But a quarterback is measured by your body of work, meaning your wins and losses record, the numbers you put up. And the end-all be-all is how many playoff wins do you have? How many playoff appearances do you have? If you only have one to show for almost a decade of play that means you can’t lead your team to the playoffs.”

Imagine how much McNabb’s words would mean had he actually, I don’t know, won a Super Bowl.


Twitter: MorrisseyCST