There are QB's who wilt under pressure and then there are the great ones who thrive when the chips are down and find a way to cash those NFL picks when the fourth quarter is staring them in the face.
1. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos) 41
Yes, the gunslinger from Mile High is tops all-time with 41 come from behind rallies yet has tallied only eight of those fourth quarter heart-stoppers over the past five seasons. In 2014 Manning engineered only one of these gems and it came at the expense of the Miami Dolphins on November 23rd as the Broncos stared a 28-17 deficit in the face. All Payton Manning did was connect on a pair of touchdown strikes sandwiched around a 10-yard touchdown scamper by CJ Wilson to ultimately defeat the Fish 39-36.
A meaningless touchdown by Miami at the tail end of the game wasn't so meaningless for those who had backed Denver in their NFL picks and were laying 6 ½ points according to the NFL odds being offered in most offshore books that day. So while Manning's brilliant fourth-quarter mastery manifested itself yet again it was bittersweet for those who lost via the point spread but it was a winner for those punters who bet the Broncos on the money line.
2. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) 35
Tom Terrific never says die and some of the most memorable football games in league history have come via Brady's preternatural penchant for fascinatingly furious finishes. While Manning's late game heroics have dropped precipitously over the past five seasons we can see that Brady has not lost his touch. Of Brady's 35 fourth-quarter masterpieces it is nothing short of remarkable that almost half (17) have occurred over the past five seasons.
Last season New England's Golden Boy added four more to the list but none more impressive than his astonishing fourth-quarter virtuoso performance in the Super Bowl. In case you have been hibernating and recently decided to leave the den it was the Patriots looking down the barrel of a 24-14 deficit on the league's biggest stage. The Patriots legendary passer marched his team down the field on 68 and 64 yard scoring drives that were both capped off via Brady touchdown passes. The second TD strike of the fourth frame secured a lead they would never relinquish and culminated in their fourth Super Bowl Championship under Brady's historic tenure.
3. Eli Manning (New York Giants) 26
The mercurial little brother of Peyton may not have the same pure passing skills of his older sibling but he does have what it takes to bring his team from behind and into the win column. Two of those come-from-behind rallies came at the expense of the New England Patriots and both proved to be gut-wrenching Super Bowl losses for the fans of Kraft Nation. Actually Manning currently a total of three fourth-quarter victories over New England with the third coming in early November of 2011 which proved to be a good omen of things to come for Big Blue as the two teams would meet again in the Super Bowl in which Manning would complete the trifecta against the vaunted Patriots.
Manning has had 15 of his 26 fourth quarter rallies over the past five seasons but of those 15 in which he wielded his late game magic eight came in their Super Bowl year of 2011.
4. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) 25
Roethlisberger is actually tied with Drew Brees for this sport but we will rank Big Ben ahead because he is three years younger and has ostensibly more tricks left in his bag. Fourteen of his fourth quarter comebacks have happened over the last five years and last season he manufactured three game winning fourth-quarter finishes with two of those against divisional rivals Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati.
5. Drew Brees (San Diego Chargers/ New Orleans Saints) 25
Brees has engineered come from behind fourth-quarter victories on 16 occasions over the past five seasons and he did so twice last season. Both of those late game heroics came against the Tampa Bay Bucs which means it was less a case of Drew Brees wizardry and more of a case of Tampa Bay being...well...Tampa Bay. It was all for naught for those who chose to bet the Saints and laid the lumber in NFL odds. Brees may have notched two in the win column but both were money burning point spread losers as they failed to cover the all-important number in NFL odds.