Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl, but given the choice, NFL players would insert Tom Brady with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
NFL players have voted the New England Patriots quarterback the most clutch signal-caller in the league. Brady received 128 of a possible 320 votes, while Manning received 86.
ESPN asked players which quarterback they would want leading their team with two minutes remaining and the Super Bowl on the line. Quite frankly, there was no other choice.
Brady already has led the Patriots on three game-winning Super Bowl drives. In his 14-year career, Brady has 31 fourth-quarter comebacks and 42 game-winning drives. Brady ranks fifth all-time in game-winning drives (behind Manning, Dan Marino, John Elway and Brett Favre), and he is tied for fourth with Joe Montana in fourth-quarter comebacks behind Manning, Marino and Elway.
Brady not only has three Super Bowls on his resume, but he also has recent history on his side. Brady had five fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives in 2013 — his most since 2003.
A case could be made for Manning, but the players have spoken. And Brady’s three Super Bowl titles and five appearances likely weighed heavily for current players — as they should have.
Manning can alter his legacy with a Super Bowl win Sunday, especially if he has to get it done in the final minutes. But for now, Brady is known as the more clutch player, even if Manning appears to have stats on his side. Digging deeper into the numbers reveals a bunch of regular-season comebacks and game-winning drives for Manning, although Manning has just one postseason fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive, which came Jan. 21, 2007, against the Patriots.
Brady has seven postseason game-winning drives and four fourth-quarter comebacks in the playoffs. Brady’s comebacks are both more meaningful and more memorable since the drives came on the biggest stage. Brady’s seven playoff game-winning drives rank first in the NFL history. Manning has as many postseason game-winning moments as Tim Tebow and Neil O’Donnell.
It’s not as if Manning hasn’t had opportunities for last-minute postseason heroics, either. In Manning’s 11 playoff losses, seven have come by one score.
NFL players picked Manning when asked, “If you had to start a team with one player, whom would it be?” and “Which player do you respect the most?”
The argument for which player is better overall will likely rage on forever. But for now, Brady is clearly more clutch when it comes to the postseason.
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