Sports fans love statistics. The masses of numbers and categories about our favorite players and teams paints a picture away from the field and stadium which allows us to see who has done well and who needs to work a little harder to get that ‘deserved’ contract extension. In debates with friends and family over ‘the greatest’ teams and players, we often throw out our arsenal of numbers in an attempt to convince the masses of misguided and brainwashed followers of other teams and players. The debate is never one sided as every argument always seems to produce an opposing set of supporting facts and figures in an effort to shoot down our arguments. Kobe versus Jordan, Federer versus Nadal, Schumacher versus Senna and Ronaldo versus Messi – these are all debates where opposing sides resort to stats in an attempt to prove their point about a player’s value or greatness.
The NFL is no different. For the stats lovers, each season provides us with a mountain of facts and figures. Everything from completion percentages to yards rushed to sacks to yards-per-game, there’s enough there to keep the most die-hard fans busy during the off-season. In terms of quarterbacks, there have been many greats who have played the game, and there are still many greats entertaining us every weekend. Like every other sport and every other player position, QBs are not immune to the debate concerning who the greatest is/was. The major challenge with rating a QB is the fact they rely on the rest of their team so much for their stats. A QB must not only be quick thinking, fast and strong, but also needs a good offensive line, a capable receiver or two and even a smart and strong running-back. Quarterbacks are central to leading a team, but their performances, ultimately, rely a large degree on a supporting cast of other players.
The following looks at the top 15 NFL QBs when it comes to game-winning drives (GWD). It is in no way an assessment of the greatest ever QBs but this stat is no doubt part of any formula in figuring out just who might make it on a potential ‘greatest QB’ list. For the sake of definition, a game-winning drive is an offensive scoring drive in the fourth quarter or overtime that places the winning team in the lead once and for all. Some GWDs are intense and packed with drama while others occur without you noticing how important they were at the time. Just keep in mind that the following 15 QBs, for the most part, had an excellent supporting cast of offensive and defensive players to help make it all possible.
15 T13. Jake Plummer – 30 GWD
14 T13. Eli Manning – 30 GWD
13 T13. Kerry Collins – 30 GWD
12 Drew Bledsoe – 31 GWD
11 T10. Joe Montana – 33 GWD
10 T10. Vinny Testaverde – 33 GWD
9 T7. Fran Tarkenton – 34 GWD
8 T7. Ben Roethlisberger – 34 GWD
7 T7. Drew Brees – 34 GWD
6 Warren Moon – 37 GWD
5 Tom Brady – 42 GWD
4 Brett Favre – 45 GWD
3 John Elway – 46 GWD
2 Dan Marino – 51 GWD
1 Peyton Manning – 52 GWD
With his neck injury in 2011 and subsequent release by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, many people though Peyton manning’s NFL career was at an end. After signing with the Denver Broncos for the 2012 season, he proved the doubters wrong by taking the team to the playoffs. The following year he took the Broncos to the Super Bowl where they were crushed by the Seattle Seahawks. Nonetheless, the eldest Manning brother has demonstrated since 1998 that he belongs on any list of elite NFL QBs. Manning holds dozens of league and playoff records. He obviously dominated the QB records of the Colts and has even set several records during his short time with the Broncos, including most completions and highest completion percentage in a season.
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