The Clutch Enigma: Eli Manning’s Situational Stats

Kyle Rodriguez continues to evaluate clutch quarterbacks, concluding his examination of Eli Manning. 

After taking a brief look at Eli’s playoff performances on Tuesday, today we’ll be looking directly at his situational statistics, in order to get a broader view of how Eli has performed in specific pressure-filled scenarios. 

So, without further ado, here are Eli Manning’s situational stats for his career. 

Years 1st Half 2nd Half Last 2 Mins Behind

Behind by

1 Score

Tied 4th Quarter 4th Q w/in 7 Margin: One Possession Passer Rating
2004 50.9 59.6 17.7 50.1 55.8 84.9 59.5 59.5 71.6 55.4
2005 80.6 68.7 101 73.6 74.4 60.9 83.1 83 60.6 75.9
2006 68.5 83 82.2 78.2 70.4 93.3 75.6 80.6 88.6 77
2007 77.2 78.8 72 79.4 75 85.6 83.6 77.6 82.7 73.9
2008 86.2 81.5 88.8 73.1 64.2 97.8 89.1 93.4 84.5 86.4
2009 94.3 91.7 82.2 87.9 104 85.3 96.9 94.8 100.1 93.1
2010 86.5 83.9 104.1 85.6 79.6 74.5 65 77.1 100.3 85.3
2011 87.5 103.8 103.8 89.4 100.6 78.7 111 104.5 92.7 92.9
Total 79 81.4 79.7 78.6 78 82.6 83 83.8 85.3 82.1

Once again, Manning’s data is fairly erratic in the situational statistics as well, but we can again apply some general trends. 

Overall, Manning tends to get better as the game goes along, figuring out the defense as the game goes on. This is a contrast to Brady, whose performance trends slightly downward as the game progresses. 

The stark difference between Eli and Brady though, is their performance at the end of games. Eli tends to be steady throughout the different categories (overall), where as Brady’s performance dips significantly in a few key categories. Brady’s career passer rating is 96, and compared to Eli’s 82 looks far superior. And, it should be, as Brady has had a far better career, and has been the better quarterback for the vast majority of the time. Brady’s situational stats tend to vary around 96, with only a few numbers below 90. Those numbers would be: Last 2 Mins (87.6), Behind by 1 Score (80.38), 4th Quarter (88.25), and 4th Quarter w/in 7 (82.81). 

Now, those first three categories listed for Brady are heavily influenced by his early years, where he was pretty bad in those situations, especially the “Behind by 1 Score” category. However, the 4th Quarter w/in 7 category has been  erratic in the past few years, and has only been slightly better than the first half of his career. That 82.81 is much worse than his career rating of 96. 

Here is that comparison in a more visual format:


Meanwhile, when we look at Eli, we see his play staying consistent throughout the games, with all of his situational stats staying within four points of his overall rating. The ironic thing is that while Eli is known as being the inconsistent quarterback (and he is), he tends to be much more consistent throughout the game than Brady. While Brady is consistent, generally, from season to season, game to game, he can be inconsistent within the games, especially late in close games. A great example of this is the Super Bowl, where Brady was great in the middle of the game, but couldn’t get it done in the beginning or in the end. 

Eli, on the other hand, is very streaky, game to game, and has had very inconsistent seasons. But, within the games, he tends to play the saame throughout the entire game, good or bad. For example, here is his Total Season QB ratings versus his 4th quarter w/in 7 category:


Eli keeps his play late in close games very similar to his play overall, in fact it’s usually slightly higher (although generally not enough to be very significant). 

So, who is the better clutch quarterback? It seems that Eli keeps his head a little better, dealing with the pressure a little better, and keeps his play steady. Brady, especially in the past four years or so, has gotten into a habit of having a much lower level of play late in close games. However, because Brady tends to be a much better quarterback overall, their play directly combined tends to be about the same. 


Of course, if Eli’s career continues to improve/mirror his 2011 season, he would have a clear advantage over Brady in this department. 

Overall, I stand by my claim that truly “clutch” quarterbacks are very hard to find, but Little Brother may be as close as you’ll get. Eli Manning does a great job of dealing with the pressure, keeping his play level in pressure situations, but he doesn’t elevate his play in any significant manner. Rather, he keeps playing the way he always does, good or bad. Of course, keeping your cool in such situations is nothing to sneeze at, and Eli should be commended for doing something that Brady has struggled with recently.

Next week we’ll take a look at Ben Roethlisberger, who, like Eli, has two rings in his young career. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.