The Top 10 Clutch Quarterbacks:Who Do You Want Taking That Snap When It Counts

John ParkerCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2008

"I believe that games are won and lost in the last two minutes of the first half and the second half" said Vince Lombardi in an interview.

You couldn't be more right sir. If it's a tight game, a momentum swing in the first half or a last minute drive with two minutes left on the clock can often be the difference between winning and losing.

This list isn't about passing records or Super Bowl rings. It's about who do you want taking that snap with twp minutes left in the game and in honor of Lombardi we are starting off with his very own quarterback.

10. Bart Starr

The star quarterback (pun intended) of arguably the greatest dynasty in Pro Football. He was often the hero of many of the Green Bay Packers championship games.

His greatest moment was in the Ice Bowl, when he drove his team down the field by completing five of five passes and drove it in himself for the winning score.

In the Championship Game before that he also proved his great clutch ability and in the first two Super Bowls he dominated so badly he didn't need to come from behind and not to mention all the other great comebacks he has on his resume.

So why so low? Well he had 13 Hall of Famers on his team(record) and his coach was the greatest in NFL history. No other quarterback in the history of the game has had the luxury that Starr has had on the gridiron and you can't help but wonder if the Packers would have won more championships with someone else.

Not to mention that in the Ice bowl he had five minutes not today's customary two-minute drill.  

9. Steve Young

What makes a clutch quarterback clutch? Well you either have to be able to read defenses like a book or you have to be amazingly physically gifted.

Young has both attributes and that's what made him so great in the clutch. No Young has had plenty of great clutch moments, like his amazing run against the Vikings. Or his super accurate pass to Terrell Owens. No other quarterback has even been as efficient in the league's history, as Young has the record for passer rating.(98.6)

8. Roger Staubach

Captain Comeback was in the driver's seat of America's team during the 70's. He led his team to four championships and won two of them.

He was called Captain Comeback for his amazing abilities to pull games out of the fourth quarter. Do I have do remind you that he invented the Hail Mary pass? Some would argue he's top five material and even I'm shocked how low he is, but they are only seven better quarterbacks in the fourth quarter.

7. Peyton Manning

For some reason, most people don't think of Manning as clutch. He has had plenty of great comebacks throughout the years and is a quarterback I would definitely want on my team when a play must be made.

What about his huge comeback against the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Bucs with the no. 1 defense? His team scored three touchdowns with less than five minutes left on the clock. That's about how much time Starr needed to pull off just one drive.

Or what about his huge comeback against the Patriots in the AFC title game in the second half? Manning hasn't gotten the respect he deserves in the clutch and there are only six QB's in NFL history who have done more in the fourth quarter, but being clutch is hardly something he strives for.

One of his great quotes is "I hear so many times about how many fourth quarter comebacks a guy has. What I want to know is how he got so behind in the first place."

6. "Snake" Stabler

He would sit back in the pocket all day long and strike like a snake. Many plays of his career personify clutch and without them the Raiders wouldn't be the quality teams they were in the 70's. Like the immaculate deception, the play before the immaculate reception, he ran the ball 50+ yards for a touchdown using his surprising speed.

Or what about the Holly Roller? He might have cheated on that play but he's an Oakland Raider and in the end his team pulled it off because of how good of a job he did faking that fumble.

The Ghost to the Post or the Sea of Hands also personify clutch and so does his career. He was never pressured when most quarterbacks were worrying and sweating and holding their hands together.

5. Dan Marino

Marino never won a Super Bowl, but has the second-most fourth-quarter comebacks in NFL history (37) and was at his best in the final two minutes of a game. His fake-spike and subsequent touchdown pass to Mark Ingram that beat the Jets in 1994 is one of the coolest plays ever by a quarterback.

Dolphins coach Don Shula said he knew they were never out of a game with Marino at quarterback, and opponents hated seeing number 13 over center when the clock was running down.

4. Johnny Unitas

How can you not have the man who invented the two-minute drill on this list? The man became a superstar when he led the Colts to a thrilling come-from-behind win in the 1958 NFL Championship against the Giants, considered by many the greatest game ever played. Johnny U was seemingly impervious to pressure, and you could never count his Colts out of a game.

Some may argue he's no. 1 and certainly he's very damn good, but three quarterbacks are still better in the fourth quarter and that's coming from a Colts fan. He still is one of the great clutch quarterbacks and the unquestioned no. 1 clutch guy of his era, but the man who comes next came year and years after Unitas...

3. Tom Brady

As much as it pains be to do this... The @sshole again makes another appearance very high on a very respectable list. The sixth(199 overall) round pick was also featured at no. 1 in my top 10 draft steals. This time he splashes in at no. 3 for driving down the field three times in three Super Bowls to win with three Adam Vinatieri field goal kicks.

Some will argue that Brady was simply making safe passes in the Super Bowl so that  Vinatieri could kick unrealistically long kicks for any other kicker. Well Brady has had comebacks outside of those Super Bowls.

The 2001 tuck rule, the Week nine(2007)undefeated showdown with the Colts, and many other games have also been a big reason why Brady is so high, but Vinatieri and Belichick took away the sizzle from Brady's legacy, but he still probably had it harder than our no. 2 guy.

2. Joe Montana

His career was filled with dramatic performances under pressure. Starting with "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, Montana always found a way to help the Niners win the big game.

"Joe Cool" never let pressure affect his play and was at his best in the national spotlight. He was 4-0 in Super Bowls and was MVP of the big game three times. He was even clutch during college and led the Fighting Irish to many big comebacks even though he was only a part-time starter.

His amazing cool under pressure and what he was able to do to calm down his teammates was amazing. So why is he only no. 2 on this list? Well he doesn't have that many fourth quarter comebacks(31) because the 49ers were often on top of things, and he always year in and year out had a great group of wide receivers.(Jerry Rice, the greatest ever) A privilege our no. 1 quarterback only had until the very end...

1. John Elway

I doubt anyone will ever be as clutch as John Elway and I have no idea why so many people thought and still think Montana was more clutch. The prize talent in the 1983 draft refused to play for the Baltimore Colts. So he embarked on a quest to lead the Denver Broncos to the top of the NFL mountain and hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

On his magical quest he shattered an NFL record and replaced it with 47 career fourth quarter comebacks.

Elway could make all of the throws and nothing was too risky for him, he was even a very accomplished runner and scrambler. Before there was Brett Favre, Elway was football's Babe Ruth. 

His determination showed up on one of the biggest drives in the history of drives, it was even called after the game "The Drive." He went up against the no. 1 cornerback tandem of all-time. Back up against his goal line in the dawg pound and made play after play.

Despite his efforts(three Super Bowl appearances) every time he got to the top he was pushed back down to the bottom. At the very end, Elways quest was completed at he pulled of one of the most shocking upsets in NFL history, when his lowly wild-card Broncos defeated the defending Packers. He loved the top and wanted the feeling again. He climbed the mountain again and nothing even attempted to stop him his second time around.

Due to his five Super Bowl appearances(NFL record), 47 fourth quarter comebacks(NFL record), two Super Bowl wins, impressive 300 passing touchdowns, mobility, "The Drive," and the extra gear when the pressure was on. John Elway is my no. 1 clutch quarterback. Agree or Disagree, but it cannot be disputed that great quarterbacks make plays when it counts.


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