NFL's BEST PERFORMERS IN THE CLUTCH
I was reading this article and found it funny they never mentioned any of our guys . but the yr that we have had I understand , But I do feel a mention would have been appropriate ... I thought it was interesting article ... So I thought I would share it with you .. I find the heart of the article very true i just wished the names were different maybe with a better season ? But no matter the meat of the article is true to the facts ...by Andy Friedlander ...
When the game in on the line … who are the NFL's best performers in the clutch? We have the list, which includes Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme
YOU'RE TRAILING. TIME IS RUNNING out. The game, perhaps even the season, hangs in the balance.
Jake Delhomme wants the ball.
In the past two seasons, the Carolina Panthers quarterback has proven that he knows what to do with it in pressure situations. In 2003, his first season as a starter, he led the Panthers to eight victories on the game's final possession, including a double-overtime road win over the St. Louis Rams in the playoffs. In drives for the winning points in the final two minutes that season, he completed 22 of 29 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 121.6. Last season, despite a string of injuries that devastated the Panthers, Delhomme added three more fourth-quarter comeback victories.
Most of the time, Delhomme is an ordinary quarterback, certainly not what you'd call a superstar. In crunch time, though, few are better. Which is why Delhomme is among the NFL's 10 most clutch players, the guys any coach would want on his team when the odds are longest and the stakes are highest.
"Certainly, you believe you have that ability [to perform in the clutch], because if not, this league will eat you up." Delhomme says. "We have been in a lot of close games, and that's kind of by our design. That's our blueprint, I guess you can say. But you just have that confidence to know that, hey, we have done this already a few times. Let's just do it again."
The ability to do it again and again trader pressure is rare, and those who possess it are among the NFLs most treasured 'commodities. The New England Patriots, for example, are thrilled that their quarterback is the unflappable Tom Brady, that disruptive safety Rodney Harrison patrols their secondary, and that they can rely on Adam Vinatieri to make the last-second, game-winning field goal. The New York Jets are secure in the knowledge that running back Curtis Martin can get that big yard when they need it most. Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins make plays in important games for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Ray Lewis is immovable when the Baltimore Ravens must have a key stop.
There are these theories out there that there's no. such thing as a clutch player. That's baloney,New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi says. There is such a thing as being a Clutch player. I know. I've competed. I've had to make a five-foot putt with a tournament on the line. Don't tell me the collar doesn't get tight. I know it gets tight. There's just something about an athlete who's able to do it under pressure. The difference between good and great players is their ability to play under pressure.
"It's really something that's not definable in words. There are just some guys who you think, when the game is on the line, they're not going to make the play. And there are certain guys who, when the game is on the line, you know they are. There's just something about guys like that. They're going to win the game for you. That's just they way it is."
Having one or more of those clutch players on the roster can make a coach breathe easier when a game gets tight, or when the season comes down to winning or going home. It affects the plays he calls and the strategy he uses, as he tries to get the ball in the hands of his playmaker.
"In football, everybody is expected to do his job," Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher says. "There are only a few people out there who can do more than their job in critical situations. As coaches, we talk about it. Who on our team could make a play to win a game? Not only who has the athletic ability, but whom do you trust? And the more of that kind of player you have on your team, the better off you're going to be."
The hard part, of course, is finding that kind of player in the first place. While scouts can measure the basic physical characteristics--size, speed, and strength--the ability to perform in the clutch is one of those intangibles that doesn't always show up in film study.
But that doesn't mean the clutch factor is ignored by scouts. Indeed, it can dictate whether a team drafts a player high or whether or not it signs a flee agent.
"Absolutely. It's why I go to games," Accorsi says. "When you watch tape, you're looking at the offense and the defense and you're not getting the sequence of the game. That's why, if we're going to make someone a high pick or there's someone we have to make a decision on, I want to see that player play. Because when you're in the stadium, you feel the tension in the situation, and you want to see how somebody's going to perform when the game is on the line. That's what you need to see."
And what is it exactly they are looking for? It's an ability not only to keep from tightening up and making mistakes, but to actually raise one's level of play under the most difficult circumstances. Some of that is simply a player's temperament--either he has it or he doesn't--but it is also tied to the work he puts in before the game every starts.
"I think a lot of it is about confidence," Houston Texans coach Dom Capers says. "There's pressure in every situation in the NFL. It's as much a part of our jobs as the food you eat or the air you breathe. But pressure in and of itself is neither good nor had. It's how you use it.
"If you do your homework and prepare yourself to the nth degree and you're placed in that pressure situation, you can make it work for you. It's going to make you more focused, more motivated, more disciplined. It'll bring out the best in you. But if you haven't prepared for it and you aren't confident with that situation, then that pressure develops into stress. And if you feel stress, you're going to feel that anxiety, you're going to be afraid to fail, and it's going to work against you. It will bring out the worst in you."
These, then, are the best of the best when it comes to performing in the clutch:
TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
When a quarterback owns three Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies, it's hard to leave him off any list of clutch players. And if that isn't enough evidence, consider this: During the regular season in 2004, Brady was pretty good, with a career-best rating of 92.6. In the postseason, though, he led all passers with a 109.4 rating, including a mark of 110.2 in the Super Bowl.
"That's what that cat's done," Eagles safety Brian Dawkins says of Brady. "He's a clutch quarterback. Every time you bet against him, every time you say, 'This team is going to be the team that knocks their streak out,' he steps up. You can't take anything away from what he does. You can say his numbers aren't great as far as the yards or whatever, but time and time again, he's standing in front of the podium smiling and having a good time answering questions."
BRIAN DAWKINS, SAFETY
When he isn't praising Brady, Dawkins is a pretty good clutch player himself as the leader of a defense that has carried the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and a chance to play Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl 39. Long part of a tough, veteran secondary, Dawkins last season was surrounded by youth but came up big as a hitter, a pass defender, and a leader. The Eagles allowed a mere 16 points per game in last season's playoffs, thanks in large part to Dawkins.
JAKE DELHOMME, QUARTERBACK
In his first game with the Panthers, he led his team from a 17-0 halftime deficit to a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, finishing with a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left. Delhomme has taken off from there, becoming a comeback king, not to mention a playoff revelation. Delhomme's 12 fourth-quarter touchdown passes last season tied for the league lead, and his playoff passer rating is a healthy 106.1. Oh, and after a shaky start, he was brilliant in his Super Bowl 38 appearance, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
ANTONIO GATES, TIGHT END
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
OK, maybe the jury is still out on the former college basketball player in only his third NFL season. But in his breakout 2004 performance, Gates was simply great when it mattered most. He led the NFL with 30 third-down receptions, taking six of them for touchdowns, also a league high and almost half of his total of 13 TDs. He was a big reason--OK, so LaDainian Tomlinson helped a bit--why the Chargers led the league in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns in 69.8% of their possessions inside the 20. And in his only playoff game, Gates caught six passes for 89 yards and a score.
RODNEY HARRISON, SAFETY
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The rugged safety makes big plays almost routinely, especially in the postseason. In last season's playoffs, for example, he had an astounding four interceptions to go with a sack and an average of almost 10 tackles per game. Harrison is an intimidator who forces receivers to look for him rather than the ball, which he always seems to find in key situations.
Harrison isn't the only New England defender who consistently comes up big in the clutch. But one of the best, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, is sitting out this season after suffering a stroke. Bruschi is a terror in the postseason year after year, recording a sack, an interception, two fumble recoveries, and 23 tackles in last season's playoff run.
RAY LEWIS, LINEBACKER
If you want a play stopped, this is the man to do it. Lewis plugs the middle against the inside run in short yardage with the power of a nose tackle, but he has the range of a free safety, getting to the corner to cut off the sweep. Oh, yeah, he can cover, too, with 20 career interceptions. With Lewis leading the charge, the Ravens were second in the league last season in keeping opponents out of the endzone from inside the 20.
CURTIS MARTIN, RUNNING BACK
NEW YORK JETS
Martin has been a solid and steady performer for years, and has been all but impossible to stop in short yardage despite his less than overwhelming size (5'11", 210). In 2004, he converted 11 of 12 third-and-one runs and led the league with 102 first downs, 90 of them rushing.
JONATHAN OGDEN, OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Speaking of getting a tough yard, when the Ravens must make a big first down or short-yardage touchdown, Ogden is the man they run behind. And when they have to throw, they can be secure that Ogden's man will not get to the quarterback.
"When they need a yard, they'll say, 'We're going to run behind Jonathan Ogder,'" Tennessee's Fisher says. "In his own world, he has become the elite."
ADAM VINATIERI, KICKER
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The kicks say it all for Vinatieri, whose nerves of titanium have held up for two last-second Super Bowl-winning field goals--not to mention the last-ditch 45-yarder in the wind and snow to tie
Oakland or the overtime kick to win mat game. If you had to pick one man to make one kick, he'd be the guy. Nobody else is close.
BRIAN WESTBROOK, RUNNING BACK
An exceedingly versatile player who excels as a runner, receiver and a return man--when coach Andy Reid lets him return kicks--Westbrook came up huge in the playoffs last season, averaging 118.7 yard from scrimmage per game and 4.9 yards per carry. A dangerous playmaker, especially on third down when his equal skills in the running and passing games create matchup problems for defenses.
Re: NFL's BEST PERFORMERS IN THE CLUTCH
Not even Marshall Faulk? Wassup with this?
Re: NFL's BEST PERFORMERS IN THE CLUTCH
That Ogden statement was funny. The Ravens have had no O-Line and Ogden has looked pathetic.
Also, anyone remember Bulger bringing the Rams back in a few games? I seem to remember that
Re: NFL's BEST PERFORMERS IN THE CLUTCH
No one in the league can deliver a better shot in the groin with the game on the line than damione lewis. I call that clutch, actually clutch and grab.
ramming speed to all