Clutch Performances Under Jim Caldwell (2014-17)
I don’t mean to add fuel to the debate that continues to rage over Jim Caldwell’s legacy in Detroit; this just happens to be a very distinct era in Stafford’s career as far as two minute magic is concerned. If around 50 percent is indeed a reasonable benchmark for a truly elite clutch performer in the NFL, Stafford’s performance during this time is barely believable.
- Atlanta – trailing 30-26 with 2:23 left, stopped at one yard line on the final play.
- Pittsburgh- trailing 20-15, turnover on downs at the eight yard line with 1:54 remaining.
- Chicago-Tied 24-24, Matt Prater kicks 52 yard field goal with 1:35 remaining.
- Tampa Bay- Tied 21-21 with 2:54 left, Prater kicks 46 yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining.
- Indianapolis- Trailing 35-34 with 37 seconds left, Prater kicks 43 yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.
- Tennessee- Trailing 16-15 with 1:19 left, interception.
- Philadelphia- Trailing 23-21 with 2:34 left, Prater kicks 29 yard field goal with 1:32 remaining.
- L.A. Rams- Tie game with 5:06 left, Prater kicks 34 yard field goal with 1:33 remaining.
- Washington- Trailing 17-13 with 1:13 left, touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 22 seconds remaining.
- Minnesota- Trailing 16-13 with 23 seconds left, 58 yard field goal by Prater on final play of regulation. Touchdown pass to Golden Tate in overtime.
- Minnesota- Trailing 13-10 with 5:04 left, drive starts at own two yard line. Field goal by Prater with 1:45 remaining (field goal by Prater as time expires to win).
- Seattle- Trailing 13-10 with 6:23 left, 90 yard drive is stopped short when Calvin Johnson fumbles on the goal line with 1:51 remaining.
- Chicago- Trailing 31-27 with 2:23 left, touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson with 25 seconds remaining (Bears tied the game, Lions drove for GW field goal in overtime).
- New Orleans- Trailing 23-17, touchdown pass to Corey Fuller with 1:38 left.
- Atlanta- Trailing 21-19, drive starts at own seven yard line, 48 yard field goal by Prater as time expires.
- Miami- Trailing 16-13 with 3:13 left, touchdown pass to Theo Riddick with 36 seconds remaining.
- Dallas (playoffs)- Trailing 24-20 with 2:32 left, sack/fumble on fourth down in the game’s final minute.
Stafford Two Minute Efficiency Rating (2ER) during this stretch: 70 percent (17 opportunities, 12 successes).
On many different levels, this statistic is mind-blowing. If a decent quarterback (Prescott) is clutch about a third of the time, two undeniably great quarterbacks (Brady, Mahomes) are clutch about half the time, what does it say that Stafford had a four year stretch of being clutch in the biggest moments of the game 70 percent of the time??
There are plenty of stats that detractors can point at to make an argument against Stafford’s career accomplishments. Still, how can even the most hardened cynic take a look at this stretch and conclude that Stafford was anything besides an all-time great clutch performer between 2014 and 2017?