After the Bengals came back to beat the Packers, the fourth quarter statistics came pouring through like a poorly constructed dam.
Coach Mike McCarthy is now 9-20 in games decided by four points or fewer and Aaron Rodgers is 5-17.
I realize those numbers look pathetic. Nobody wants to be under .500 in this league at anything.
But a good barometer for the “clutch” statistic is Eli Manning. When the Giants inched into the 2007 playoffs with a 10-6 record he engineered fourth quarter or later comebacks from the divisional playoff all the way to the Super Bowl.
I say that luck is a pretty good synonym for clutch. Did Manning have anything to do with forcing Brett Favre’s interception? Of course that set up the eventual 47-yard game-winning field goal and put the Giants in the big game. Once there, Manning needed a 3rd and 5 completion to David Tyree — who is no longer in the league — to keep the hope alive.
But as you remember, it wasn’t just a completion, Tyree caught the ball against his helmet with defenders draped all over him. New York ended the Patriots’ march to perfection and it was all because Manning led a clutch drive that saw him heave up a 32-yard desperation pass that somehow found enough helmet to be hauled in.
Taking it one step further, Rodgers is 5-24 when he’s got the ball in the fourth quarter trailing by 1-8 points.
How many of those were missed field goals, a dropped pass, a blown coverage or a bonehead penalty? Any one or a combination of those things can quickly turn a definite win into a loss.
“You can throw a bunch of numbers into a can and sort them different ways and come up with strengths and weaknesses and you can believe what you want to believe,” McCarthy said on Monday. “I think you really have to stay in tune with individuals especially in a team sport where you have 11 people on the field at once.”
To prove how silly the clutch stat is, Jay Cutler has a better clutch winning percentage than Peyton Manning. Now I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to think that Cutler is a better overall quarterback than Manning, who is cutting through defenses with so much meticulous-like precision that he reminds me of a surgeon.