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Best QB Debate: Most Clutch Under Pressure

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  1. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Best QB of the Decade Debate


    Clutch Factor: Best Under Pressure




    Seems to me that ever since the Super Bowl the “best quarterback debate” has gained some volume. Specifically, Steelers fans appear to jump all over any column on any web site that does not include Ben Roethlisberger in the same sentence as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady; based on the final two minutes of the last two Super Bowls their theory is that Roethlisberger is more clutch than Brady and that given the choice, any team would be better off with the football in the hands of Big Ben rather than TFB.

    I don’t have the time or resources to compare their NFL careers play-by-play, but I thought it might be worth looking at how their respective teams have done in the 4th quarter over their NFL careers – especially with the game on the line. As I write this, my pre-conceived notion is that none will ever compare to Elway or Montana, but I’ll have to save those comparisons for another day. Here is a look at what I found for their teams’ records in each season, and their team’s records when the game was in doubt – defined by within 14 points entering the 4th quarter.

    Note: some totals won’t add up to 16 games in a year because I excluded games when backups were the primary QB – most often in season finales. As a result the won-loss totals below won’t be the same as official NFL won-loss records.

    The first pair of numbers is that quarterback’s record in regular season and playoff games for that season. The second set of numbers is that quarterback’s record in regular and then playoff games that were within 14 points (“close” games) entering the fourth quarter; the number in parenthesis is the total for both regular season and playoff games.

    This is by no means definitive, but I just wanted to shed some light and statistics on the whole ‘who is most clutch' debate that seems to be circulating.



    Peyton Manning
    1998: 3-13 regular season & 0-0 playoff record; 2-9 & 0-0 (2-9) in close games.
    1999: 13-3 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 10-2 & 0-1 (10-3) in close games.
    2000: 10-6 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 8-6 & 0-1 (8-7) in close games.
    2001: 6-10 regular season & 0-0 playoff record; 5-6 & 0-0 (5-6) in close games.
    2002: 10-6 regular season & 0-0 playoff record; 8-4 & 0-0 (8-4) in close games.
    2003: 12-4 regular season & 2-1 playoff record; 9-4 & 1-1 (10-5) in close games.
    2004: 11-4 regular season & 2-1 playoff record; 8-3 & 1-1 (9-4) in close games.
    2005: 13-1 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 9-1 & 0-1 (9-2) in close games.
    2006: 12-4 regular season & 4-0 playoff record; 8-3 & 4-0 (12-3) in close games.
    2007: 12-3 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 8-2 & 0-1 (8-3) in close games.
    2008: 11-4 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 10-2 & 0-1 (10-3) in close games.
    Total: 113-58 regular season & 8-7 playoff (121-65) record; 85-42 & 6-7 (91-49) in close games.


    Tom Brady
    2001: 11-3 regular season & 3-0 playoff record; 8-2 & 3-0 (11-2) in close games.
    2002: 9-7 regular season & 0-0 playoff record; 6-6 & 0-0 (6-6) in close games.
    2003: 14-2 regular season & 3-0 playoff record; 12-1 & 3-0 (15-1) in close games.
    2004: 14-2 regular season & 3-0 playoff record; 12-1 & 3-0 (15-1) in close games.
    2005: 10-5 regular season & 1-1 playoff record; 7-1 & 0-0 (7-1) in close games.
    2006: 12-4 regular season & 2-1 playoff record; 8-4 & 2-1 (10-5) in close games.
    2007: 16-0 regular season & 2-1 playoff record; 8-0 & 2-1 (10-1) in close games.
    Total: 86-23 regular season & 14-3 playoff (100-27) record; 61-15 & 13-2 (74-17) in close games.


    Ben Roethlisberger
    2004: 13-1 regular season & 1-1 playoff record; 12-0 & 1-1 (13-1) in close games.
    2005: 9-3 regular season & 4-0 playoff record; 5-3 & 4-0 (9-3) in close games.
    2006: 7-8 regular season & 0-0 playoff record; 4-7 & 0-0 (4-7) in close games.
    2007: 10-5 regular season & 0-1 playoff record; 6-3 & 0-1 (6-4) in close games.
    2008: 12-4 regular season & 3-0 playoff record; 10-4 & 3-0 (13-4) in close games.
    Total: 51-20 regular season & 8-2 playoff (49-22) record; 37-17 & 8-2 (45-19) in close games.





    Bottom Line: Roethlisberger has been very good, but despite two Lombardis he is not yet at Brady's level; in fact it would take not one, but two more 3-0 post-seasons to get there. Manning has more total wins (and yards, TDs, etc.), but he has also played in - and lost - more games. Though Tom Brady has not won a Super Bowl as recently as Manning or Roethlisberger, in my opinion he is still more clutch than either of his highly esteemed colleagues.
  2. APatrioticVirginian

    APatrioticVirginian Banned

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    Worthlessburger doesnt rate period.
  3. Palm Beach Pats Fan

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    The Manning playoff stats are off. He is 7-8, not 8-7 in the playoffs, for his career:

    Peyton Manning Gamelogs and Game Logs - Pro-Football-Reference.com

    The discrepancies: He was 0-1 in the 2002 postseason and 1-1 in the 2004 postseason. (fixed upon edit)

    I am sure of this since I often remind my Colts friends that Peyton, for his career in the playoffs, has a losing record. Further, the odds of Peyton winning any particular playoff game (46.7%) are far less than the odds of Shaquille O'Neal making any particular free throw (52.8% for his career).
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  4. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    Brady is the best of the current QB's. I love Brady, but for all time he's still not as great under pressure as Joe Montana. Even when Montana was an old man at 37, with no-name receivers, he still repeatedly brought back the Chiefs for TD's against Elway's Broncos in an epic game.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  5. ALP

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    somewhere in there if it were possible to take account of the steelers great defense over the yeas, Ben's numbers really dont look as good
  6. godef

    godef Rookie

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    How can you be 1-2 in the postseason? One loss and you're out.
  7. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    Between these QB's.....no contest, Tom Brady, hands down. The only way to spark debate on this topic is to compare Brady to the likes of Montana, Elway, etc...

    BTW. Thanks for posting the comparisons.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  8. Patriots2001

    Patriots2001 Rookie

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    Then it becomes a discussion,otherwise Brady is numero uno:D
  9. Palm Beach Pats Fan

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    my bad (typo) 1-1 instead of 2-1, so the original stats in the first post in this thread gave Peyton a win he didn't have (after the 2004 season ) and missed a loss he did have (after the 2002 season).

    My link was correct, and also all stats. Peyton Manning is 7-8 in the playoffs (46.7%):

    Peyton Manning Gamelogs and Game Logs - Pro-Football-Reference.com

    Tom Brady is 14-3 (82.4%):
    Tom Brady Gamelogs and Game Logs - Pro-Football-Reference.com

    So using my free throw analogy, the difference in playoff winning percentage for Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (35.7%) is ALMOST equal to the difference in career free throw percentages for Larry Bird and Shaquille O'Neal (88.6 -52.8% = 35.8%).

    Going from Peyton Manning to Tom Brady in a playoff game is like having Larry Bird shoot a free throw in place of Shaquille O'Neal. Their winning percentage in the regular season in those same playoff years is pretty comparable, so it can't just be blamed upon having a poorer team. Peyton's overall reg season winning percentage is lowered by two bad years for his team.

    Ben doesn't stand up in regular season production.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  10. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yes, good catch; Manning's playoff record is 7-8, not 8-7.
    He was 1-1 (not 2-1) in the 2004 playoffs, and 0-1 in the 2002 playoffs - a 41-0 loss to the Jets.

    Also, Roethlisberger's combined regular season and playoff record is 59-22, not 49-22.
  11. PatsDparty

    PatsDparty Rookie

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    Most of this is just a waste of time since fans just tend to use the stats that support their argument anyways. People on here used to claim that Brady was the best b/c of his clutchness and lack of people around him, and downplay stats. Now that he has the TD records, people use that in their arguments, but will diminish Ben by saying he doesn't have the stats, but has won 2 super bowls. Bottom line:

    Colts Fans think Manning is the best
    Pats Fans think Brady is the best
    Steeler fans think Ben should be right up there
  12. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    ...and everyone else thinks Brady is. :cool:
  13. PatsFanSince74

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    Thanks for all the work that went into this! It's the kind of post that makes this board so great (BTW, dontcha love it when people spend two minutes reading something into which someone has put hours of work and snipe at one or two details?)

    To buttress your argument, Brady's "close" game win pctg, according to your numbers, is 0.803 vs. 0.685 for Big Ben and 0.650 for Peyton. Brady's Playoff record in such circumstances is astounding, again according to your data.

    To quibble, I'd probably have set the "close game" bar a little lower at, say, 10 points rather than 14, but I guess it wouldn't change the answer very much and you were no doubt trying to look at games that were "within two scores."

    I guess the hard part is that, as you observe, people look at TB's last two Championship Game Defeats (Indy and Giants) and discount the stats you put forward.

    Thanks again for the work!
  14. State

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    Must be June.
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    Peyton may be the least clutch "great" QB in NFL history.
  16. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    It's gotta be Brady out of the 3. He's had 2 game winning drives in the SB and would've had a 3rd - and perhaps most impressive - game winning drive if it weren't for the motherf**king Tyree catch.

    Big Ben doesn't enter the conversation yet, IMO. Brady had his drives against elite defenses, Cardinals D was a joke. Not to mention, Big Ben's first SB victory saw him produce the worst QB rating in SB history.
  17. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I was considering that, but then you could also say that Brady has benefited from a better offensive line. Perhaps if I get bored enough this offseason I'll look at that as well.


    Some of that is what spurred me on to figure out these stats. Ever since the Giants beat the Pats opposing fans have been using that game as 'proof' that Brady is not clutch, and ever since the Steelers beat Arizona Pittsburgh fans have used that as 'proof' that Ben is more clutch than Brady.

    Any article on a national site such as FoxSports or National Football Post that talks positively about Brady will quickly elicit comments from Steeler fans about how Roethlisberger is more clutch. I felt one game by each player was too small of a sample size to make a determination, so I thought I would look at all of the 'close' games in their entire careers. I had no idea what the numbers would turn out to be ahead of time; I wanted to try to be objective. That's why I did not include stats such as record in overtime games because I already knew Brady was 7-0 in OT; and besides, a QB can win in OT without the opposing QB ever getting on the field (or lose without getting on the field himself.)


    Thanks - though I have no problem with the corrections. If nothing else it shows people are taking the time to read what I wrote! I considered 10 points and 17 points as benchmarks, but I figured 14 meant two scores as you pointed out. I'm guessing the percentages wouldn't be a whole lot different with 10 or 17 though.


    Slow offseason, I know. I figured it would be an acceptable alternative to another "let's sign this guy" thread.


    Ha, I hadn't thought about that. Anybody else that I think of as being "least clutch" does not fall in to the "great" category.


    It's funny how those that attempt to prove Brady is not clutch by pointing out the loss to the Giants forget that catch - and the preceding drive that ended with Brady throwing a touchdown pass for the lead with less than three minutes to play.
  18. BradyManny

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    To be honest, I don't see many people saying Brady wasn't clutch in SB42, and his clutch track record is far too established for it to ever be diminished. No doubt it wasn't his best playoff performance, but that drive would've gone down as one of his best - everything on the line, playing behind an OL completely overmatched all nite, fighting through injury, etc.

    Heck, want to talk about clutch, on the very last "drive" - I hesitate to call it that since the game was over the instant he was sacked on 2nd down thanks to Koppen completely whiffing - his bomb to Moss on 3rd down was a fingertip length away from completion, and I have no doubt that would've gone down as the single greatest play in the history of the sport. To make that throw with all that pressure is even more astounding - unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  19. ScottieC

    ScottieC Rookie

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    Yea, one defensive stop and Brady would probably have been co-mvp with Welker and the opposite side of the Greatest of All Time debate would be a difficult position to argue from.

    Oh, well - There's always this year!
  20. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    I hear you. Coming back from an ACL injury and winning another SB ring would go along ways to cementing his status as the greatest QB of the generation.
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