NEW ORLEANS -- The Patriots built their rep on being clutch and consistent in the fourth quarter, but in 2009, it was their undoing down the stretch of games.
Now, this wasn't exactly the issue with New England this year. But I think it was a major one.
And while you can't base a team's entire performance on how the quarterback plays, his numbers can illuminate the overall effort turned in by the club, since he's dependent on so many other guys. That said, here's how each of the four QBs playing this week have fared in the fourth quarter this year, and where each ranked league-wide there, with Tom Brady thrown into the mix:
1) Peyton Manning, Colts: 79-109 (72.5), 939 yds, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 116.0 rating
3) Drew Brees, Saints: 91-126 (72.2), 1066 yds, 6 TDs, 0 INT, 113.4 rating
4) Brett Favre, Vikings: 89-126 (70.6), 1081 yds, 8 TDs, 2 INT, 111.2 rating
21) Tom Brady, Patriots: 73-121 (60.3), 685 yds, 5 TD, 4 INT, 75.9 rating
40) Mark Sanchez, Jets: 35-69 (50.7), 541 yds, 1 TD, 9 INT, 42.3 rating
And that underscores the fact that the one quarter that, cumulatively, the Patriots were outscored in this year was the fourth, highlighted by the collapses in Houston and Indy.
The Jets, like they are in so many other ways, are the anomaly here. Not only has Sanchez struggled in the fourth quarter, their stout defense has too -- yielding game-winning, fourth-quarter drives of 70-plus yards to Miami, Atlanta and Jacksonville.
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