15 NFL Stars Who Always Crack Under Pressure

15 NFL Stars With a Tendency to Crack Under Pressure

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Having the clutch gene is seen as a critical part of finding success in the NFL, and several players have been extolled for their ability to prove just that. Just as many – if not more – guys have been ridiculed and chastised for not coming through in the crucial moments, and this group of 15 truly redefines the anti-clutchness going on throughout the NFL today.

15. Hakeem Nicks

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15. Hakeem Nicks

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Contract years are supposed to bring out the best in players, right? Well, apparently that logic applies only if your name is something other Hakeem Nicks, because the former New York Giants, now Indianapolis Colts receiver was basically a mirage last season. Zero touchdowns isn’t a good statistic by any measurement, and that along with his nagging injury issues mean Nicks doesn’t show up big – if at all – under pressure.

14. Chicago Bears Defense

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14. Chicago Bears Defense

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These aren’t the Monsters of the Midway anymore, and the complete coverage gaffe by safety Chris Conte was an embarrassment to those former Chicago Bears in Week 17 last season. It also cost the team a playoff spot at the most critical juncture of the season. Brian Urlacher isn’t walking through that door, and this unit is going to be known as choke artists for the foreseeable future.

13. Matt Ryan

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13. Matt Ryan

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The big bucks used to be saved for the great ones, but Matt Ryan is getting paid like an elite QB and needs to start playing like one soon. Putting up video game numbers in the regular season is one thing, but repeatedly falling short in the postseason is a tough pill to swallow. Up to this point, he’s deserving of the choker label after his egg-laying performances for the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs.

12. Sam Bradford

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12. Sam Bradford

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It may not be all his fault to this point in his career, but the weight of expectations from being the No. 1 overall pick have really stifled Sam Bradford. 2014 will be a seminal moment in his career as the team is stocked with talent and he is coming off of a torn ACL. It’s put up or shut up time for Bradford, and his tendency to get rattled under pressure and come up small in the clutch needs to change this season.

11. Philip Rivers

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11. Philip Rivers

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He played with a torn ACL in the AFC Championship once upon a time, but that seems like light-years ago for both Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. From untimely turnovers to flat out poor decision-making in key situations, Rivers has been far from clutch for the Bolts. He may still be a great, fiery leader, but clutch moments have certainly become Rivers’ bugaboo over the years.

10. Jim Harbaugh

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10. Jim Harbaugh

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Perhaps it is a better indication of a team that comes up short when the coach is more thought of than any player when mentioning the San Francisco 49ers, but Jim Harbaugh’s temper may be the reason for the team not getting over the hump. Three straight NFC Championship appearances is nothing to sneeze at, but that has gotten coaches with that on their resume fired in the past.

9. Andy Reid

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9. Andy Reid

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Speaking of which, big red Andy Reid is the man who received that aforementioned pink slip after taking many trips to the precipice but never bringing home the Lombardi. To call him or Harbaugh chokers may be a bit ridiculous, but to exonerate them of all fault would be just as foolish. From temper tantrums to pass-happy play-calling, these two guys have a bad habit of not coming through in the clutch.

8. Peyton Manning

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8. Peyton Manning

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One Super Bowl win is certainly impressive, but it’s his showings in the two losses that really cause the head scratching to begin. Interceptions are one thing, but crucial, game-changing pick-sixes are quite another. It’s hard to truly call the owner of the most prolific passing season statistically in league history a choker, but Manning has a real tendency to come up small in the biggest of moments.

7. Tom Brady

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7. Tom Brady

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Many will undoubtedly be angered by the mere suggestion of Tom Brady cracking under pressure, but what exactly has he won in the last decade? The AFC East, sure, but anything of greater significance has been hard to come by. In his earlier years he was lauded for the same type of game-manager role that many of today’s QB are ridiculed for. Losing Super Bowls and AFC Championship Games would get other guys chastised rather than praised.

6. Wes Welker

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6. Wes Welker

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Dropped passes normally get you a quick ticket out of town. For Wes Welker, they earned him a big fat contract from the Denver Broncos after having the dropsies which arguably prevented the New England Patriots from winning Super Bowl XLVI. 10 drops on 111 targets in 2013 doesn’t suggest he’s changed much, and in crunch time it should always be expected for his butterfingers to show up once again.

5. Ryan Tannehill

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5. Ryan Tannehill

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The sample size may be small, but two losses with a combined seven points with the playoffs on the line in 2013 is quite an indicting record for Ryan Tannehill. The object is to outscore the other team, and Tannehill’s Miami Dolphins mustered one touchdown in 120 minutes of action during crunch time last season. Until this kid proves he can handle the big moments, the label of a choker will be aptly attached to his name.

4. Detroit Lions Franchise

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4. Detroit Lions Franchise

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Is it a cop out to put an entire franchise on here? Maybe, but the Detroit Lions deserve it with their one playoff win since 1957. Do the math and only retirees were even BORN the last time they were relevant. Matthew Stafford and Co. gagged away a playoff appearance last season, and there’s no reason to think their tendency to turn into a raging dumpster fire will conclude any time in the near future.

3. Jay Cutler

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3. Jay Cutler

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When you pout on the sidelines in the biggest game of the season it isn’t exactly a good look. Jay Cutler’s injury in the playoffs a couple of years ago gets him the label of a choker, and his awful body language and seriously downtrodden attitude only furthers the need for inquiry. It’s time for this big-money QB to start playing like one when all the chips are down by taking the Chicago Bears somewhere warm in February.

2. Andy Dalton

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2. Andy Dalton

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Many are calling 2014 a make-or-break year for Andy Dalton, and there is plenty of validity to that claim. While he has taken the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in all three years he has been the starter, Wild Card losses each time in which he was dreadful don’t reflect well on the signal-caller. Regular season pressure is one thing, but the postseason demands a whole different level that Dalton has yet to master.

1. Tony Romo

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1. Tony Romo

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From bobbled snaps to throwing the ball to the wrong team, Tony Romo has the tendency to crack under pressure covered from all angles. He truly is the loveable loser of the NFL, and Jerry Jones’ steadfast support of him only sets him up from more failure. “Pulling a Romo” is listed by Urban Dictionary as when “you or a person you know fails miserably under pressure in a crucial moment and looks like a complete and utter fool afterwards.” Yikes.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.


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