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.
Let’s also not forget that Rodgers owns a 53-28 record as a starter. The last time Rodgers threw two picks was Oct. 24, 2010. That tells me that he’s still the most efficient quarterback in the game and hasn’t lost the recipe on how to win in the new pass-happy NFL.
Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the league right up there with guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. That’s pretty good company.
Yet for some reason, before the scoreboard lights at Paul Brown Stadium were turned off, Rodgers detractors brought up his fourth quarter numbers and continue to use that as kryptonite to fuel the argument against Rodgers.
Rodgers is the reason the running game doesn’t even have to be visible for the Packers to be successful. Rodgers is the reason that defenses break out in night sweats with trepidation on how to stop him and the deadly back shoulder throw.
I know Rodgers is not naïve enough to think that his fourth quarter numbers are good by any means. But it’s not like he’s morphing into a JV player when the scoreboard puts up a big number 4.
Not looking at his completion percentage — which has been north of 63 percent every year he’s been a starter — his sack percentage, which is at 7.6 and his playoff record which is 5-3 is negligence.
All those things give a clearer picture of who Rodgers is. Simplifying a cerebral quarterback into a single category isn’t just wrong, it’s irresponsible. I’m not saying the fourth quarter numbers can’t be brought up, but they shouldn’t be used to paint a picture as to what kind of quarterback Rodgers really is.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn