Week 5 NFL Stats: Quarterbacks Key In Close Games

A constant in winning close games in the NFL?  Quality play at quarterback when the game is on the line. “Late in the game, the quarterback has to keep his smarts and poise during tough situations and exude confidence,” says former NFL head coach and NFL Network analyst STEVE MARIUCCI.  “He has to be mentally tough and demand the same from his teammates.”

Houston Texans quarterback MATT SCHAUB, who leads the NFL with a 99.1 passer rating since 2007 in games decided by eight or fewer points, says the quarterback has to turn into a game manager in close contests.

“If you can manage your situations, keep your third downs manageable and execute the plays that are called against what the defenses are doing, you’ll keep yourself in good shape,” says Schaub.  “You have to be into what you’re doing and what the defenses are trying to do to you, especially in crunch time when the game is on the line.”

The quarterbacks with the highest passer rating in games decided by eight points or fewer since 2007 (minimum 500 attempts):

Matt Schaub 737 1,108 9,103 52 22 99.1
Drew Brees 853 1,247 9,306 61 32 95.8
Aaron Rodgers 539 838 6,639 39 18 95.3
Eli Manning 519 835 6,203 46 17 94.7
Philip Rivers 713 1,119 9,016 54 34 92.2


Buffalo Bills quarterback RYAN FITZPATRICK, who has led the Bills to a 2-1 record this season in games decided by eight or fewer points, says composure is a key component in crucial situations late in a game.

“I think the biggest thing is staying calm and staying within yourself,” says Fitzpatrick.  “You hear all the clichés – ‘take it one play at a time.’  Well it’s a cliché for a reason because you’re not going to be able to score three touchdowns with one play.  You’ve got to stay within yourself, stay positive and just keep at it.

“The biggest thing is everybody being on the same page,” he says.  “It doesn’t matter if it’s a run play or a pass play or an audible.  Everyone needs to do their job and understand what their job is.”

The quarterbacks with the most touchdown passes in games decided by eight or fewer points since 2007:

Drew Brees 61
Peyton Manning 60
Jay Cutler 58
Philip Rivers 54
Matt Schaub 52

The quarterbacks with the highest winning percentage in games decided by eight or fewer points since 2007 (minimum 15 starts):

Peyton Manning* 26-8 .765
Eli Manning* 19-7 .731
Matt Ryan* 19-7 .731
Tom Brady* 13-6 .684
Brett Favre 15-7 .682