What an exciting week of NFL action. Two games went to overtime, many ended on last-minute heroics. Those last-minute heroics are what sports fans have decided is “clutch.” Being able to elevate your team with the game on the line by making the play when it counts. It is the quality that makes certain players elite, an ability to be clutch when the game is on the line. To deliver the win when it counts most, to be perfect when in crunch time.
This weekend was filled with last-minute wins, and that means clutch players. We’ve ranked the clutch performances once again this week. For our clutch power rankings, we go on a week to week basis. It is not cumulative, the slate is wiped clean every week.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton is becoming elite before our very eyes. At the half, the Panthers trailed 16-6. In the third quarter the Newton scored to bring the Panthers within three points. In the fourth quarter, Newton got the ball with 4:13 left in the game. Newton drove the Panthers 72 yards down the field on 12 plays and scored with 43 seconds left in the game for the win.
On that 12 play drive, Newton was responsible for 10 of the plays. Newton completed 5 of 7 passes for 34 yards, including the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen. Newton also scrambled three times for 16 yards.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tennessee Titans
Fitzpatrick got he ball down three points with six minutes and 10 seconds left in the game. There are two objectives at this point, to drive the field and get a field goal or touchdown, preferably a touchdown, while wasting as much time as you can. Fitzpatrick drove down the field in six minutes, and threw a touchdown pass to Kendall Wright with 10 seconds left on the clock to win the game. On the drive he also completed 8 of 10 passes for 67 yards. The whole drive was 80 yards.
3. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers won a shoot out with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Chargers got the ball down 4 points with 1:22 left in the game. Rivers drove 78 yards down the field and threw a game winning touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in the game. It was his second fourth quarter touchdown pass, earlier in the quarter he threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to give the Chargers the lead.
4. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys almost pissed away a win over the New York Giants. They let the Giants climb back into the game and tie it. With 4:45 left in the game Tony Romo got the ball back. He needed to lead the Cowboys to a score to win and all they needed was a field goal. They also needed to waste as much of that time as possible.
Romo led the Cowboys 64 yards down the field in 14 plays. Romo completed 6 of 9 passes for 67 yards. This is when Romo notoriously melts down, but he didn’t and was rather efficient leading them into field goal range. The Cowboys kicked a field goal to win and time expired to end the game.
5. Kendall Wright, QB, Tennessee Titans
The Titans got the ball with 6:10 left in the game. They need to drive the field and score to tie or take the lead and waste as much time as possible. They wasted all but 10 seconds, and scored a touchdown to win the game. Wright caught that game-winning pass and had 3 receptions for 41 yards on the drive.
6. Johnthan Banks, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Detroit Lions were marching down the field to score and either tie or win the game. On third and 12 from the 28 yard line, Matthew Stafford’s pass to Calvin Johnson was intercepted by Banks at the three-yard line and returned to the 18-yard line. That sealed the win for the Bucs.
7. Dan Bailey, K, Dallas Cowboys
Romo set Bailey up with a 35-yard field goal and seconds on the clock. Bailey nailed the kick to give the Cowboys the win as time expired on the road against their rivals, the New York Giants.
8. Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
He hit the game winning field goal in overtime against the Broncos. He did have the wind with him since head coach Bill Belichick brazenly chose that instead of the ball after winning the coin toss. Still it won them the game and he was 2 for 2. His other kick was in the fourth quarter.
9. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
His team lost but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be on the list. The Chiefs were trailing by three points when they got the ball back with 3:51 left in the game. The Chiefs drove down the field on six-plays, all passing, to score the go ahead touchdown. On that drive, Smith completed five of six passes for 55 yards. His biggest crime was leaving 1:22 on the clock for Rivers.