Who is the NFL's ultimate clutch playoff player?

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Jake Goodwill
·3 min read
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Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith and Nick Foles.
Tom Brady, Emmitt Smith and Nick Foles.

Joe Montana (16 playoff wins, 7 losses)

Montana won four Super Bowls and 16 playoffs games, illustrating he was just effective in the postseason as the regular.

The former 49er was the greatest of all time before a certain Tom Brady came along. In part due his performances in the Super Bowls he won, collecting three Super Bowl MVP awards. Montana also went on a streak of 122 passes in the playoffs without an interception. A remarkable showing of accuracy and decision making under pressure.

Emmitt Smith (17 playoff appearances)

Smith is the only non-quarterback on the list, after all, the control and decision making required in the cauldron of playoff games falls heavily on the quarterback. However, Smith’s performances in the postseason are just too impressive to be ignored.

Smith is the all-time leader for playoff yards with 1,586 yards. He also scored 19 touchdowns in the postseason, including five that were in Super Bowls.

Putting the team on your back is far more difficult if you are not a quarterback, and yet Smith managed to do that time and time again.

Tom Brady (33 playoff wins, 11 losses)

At the age of 43, Brady is still proving he can do it in the playoffs. The Patriots legend, now in Tampa Bay, will play in yet another Super Bowl, having already won six times.

Brady has won a mind-boggling 33 playoff games, more than double the amount of Montana who is next closest with 16. He quite simply untouchable in terms of playoff record.

His sheer will to win, understanding of the game and ability to drag his team over the line mark him out as the greatest player in NFL history.

Nick Foles (4 playoff wins, 2 losses)

Foles is by no means of the calibre of the other players on this list. However, his run to the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 season will go down in history.

As the back-up to the in-form Carson Wentz, Foles was thrown into the limelight but still managed to guide his team all the way to the trophy, including catching the ball for the ‘Philly Special’ touchdown against the Patriots.

The more important the occasion, the better Foles seemed to play. The sign of a true clutch player.

Joe Flacco (10 playoff wins, 5 losses)

Flacco is another player that grew in stature when playing in the postseason. He led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, also winning the MVP award for the match with his performance.

During Baltimore’s run to the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Flacco threw 11 touchdown passses without an interception, equaling the record held by Montana.

His performance was so good during that Super Bowl run that he was rewarded with the highest ever NFL contract for a quarterback at the time. The Ravens liked what they saw from Flacco as a playoff animal.

Verdict

Brady. It just has to be Brady. By virtue of the number of playoff wins and Super Bowl wins alone, no-one can claim to be better in the postseason than the legendary number 12.

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