Tony Romo and the 6 Least-Clutch Players in the NFL Today

Nick DeWittAnalyst IAugust 15, 2011

Tony Romo and the 6 Least-Clutch Players in the NFL Today

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    This generation of NFL players has several notable names that can only be considered clutch.

    Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Adam Vinatieri and others of their ilk consistently get the job done. On those rare occasions when they fail, fans are left in shock.

    With the good, however, always comes the bad.

    There are several players in the NFL who are considered anything but clutch. From getting injured regularly to failing in key moments while excelling everywhere else, these guys are surprising when they succeed.

    Here's a look at six players who are the least-clutch in today's NFL.

Peyton Manning, QB

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    Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of football and is certainly a threat to shatter any passing record known to man, but he has a startling history of failing in big spots.

    Until his victory in Super Bowl XLI, it was thought that Manning would be another great quarterback who couldn't win the biggest game.

    Title aside, Manning has a hard time beating elite teams in his conference, notably the New England Patriots. He also has a bad history of failing in the playoffs, winning only nine of 19 career games.

    There's no disputing Manning as a future Hall of Fame inductee, but there's a lot of question marks around his ability to perform in and win big games.

Jay Cutler, QB

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    I used to be a big Cutler fan. In college, he was such a good player, and he had a great beginning to his NFL career under Mike Shanahan in Denver.

    But after the flap with Josh McDaniels, I cooled on him a little, and after this past year's NFC Championship game, he's lost me.

    One of the biggest ways to prove you're a clutch player is to play the big game even if you're playing through injuries. For comparison, we've seen Ben Roethlisberger playing games with a broken foot and a broken nose. We've also seen guys come back quick from major injuries.

    Jay Cutler left the NFC Championship game with nothing more than a serious ouchy. That's not clutch.He left a winnable game and then didn't come back in when he had a golden opportunity to rally his team to a Super Bowl berth. He sat on the sidelines, then tried to deflect criticism.

    That's not clutch. That's sad.

Tony Romo, QB

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    It's hard to hate the guy. He's tough, absorbs a lot of hits and plays in the shadow of one of the game's greatest quarterbacks on a team that has been trying to return to glory for more than a decade. He does this all with the greatest attitude you could ask for under that kind of pressure.

    The problem is that Tony Romo doesn't do well in big games. He's similar to Peyton Manning in that regard. He's been awful in the playoffs, going 1-4 with some very forgettable performances. Romo's almost a Jekyll-and-Hyde type player; during the regular season, he's always a top-tier performer.

    It's unclear whether or not Romo will ever overcome his playoff woes. Manning did it long enough to win a Super Bowl before fading back into the same old pattern. Romo has never come as close as Manning and is likely running out of time to do so.

    In Dallas, it's all about getting that sixth trophy.

Limas Sweed, WR

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    Sweed is not, nor has he ever been, a starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that doesn't mean he is excused from being clutch. Sweed has played his way from heralded second-round steal to massive bust in only a few seasons.

    2009 was the worst example.

    After a forgettable playoff run the year before, Sweed was back and looking like a guy who could contribute to a team trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

    But on a team that finished 9-7 and just percentage points out of the playoffs, Sweed cost the team a division victory against Cincinnati by himself when he dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone. That score would have given the Steelers the victory and, by proxy, a division title.

    Instead, they lost and missed the playoffs.

    Sweed has a bad history of dropping easy catches that would either go for scores or put the team into scoring position; he's done it at least once each year he's been on the field. Sweed's on his last chance this season, but hasn't been healthy.

Donovan McNabb, QB

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    Good quarterbacks put teams on their shoulders and win big games.

    Mediocre quarterbacks win the games they should win (most of the time), but often struggle in true contests of skill.

    While Manning is often touted as a big-game failure, Donovan McNabb may have edged him out in some ways.

    McNabb is the king of "almost."

    He led his team to the NFC Championship game every year from 2001-2003 without getting any further.

    He made it to the Super Bowl in 2004, but fell ill in the huddle with the game on the line and couldn't beat New England.

    In total, he's made it to the conference championship five times with one victory and one Super Bowl.

    McNabb seems to wither under pressure. He has twice been noticeably ill in the huddle late in a close game and has often fallen apart against top competition.

    He's a great athlete, but not clutch in the least.

Nate Kaeding, K

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    Kaeding is the Peyton Manning of kickers. He's a regular-season beast and currently shares the league record for accuracy. That's quite an accomplishment, and no team would pass on a guy like Kaeding if they needed a kicker.

    But in the playoffs, he's a disaster. He's missed virtually every big kick he's ever attempted in the postseason and is 3-of-9 at home during the playoffs.

    So, in short, he's got an overall accuracy percentage of 82.1, but only 56.3 in the playoffs?

    That's a bad resume item.

    Kaeding could be the best kicker the league has ever seen, but if he can't improve that playoff accuracy, he'll always be the guy who's missed big in big situations.