In a recently released ranking of the 10 most clutch players in the NFL, there was no lack of representation from the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, three players from the team were featured on the list, becoming just another sign of the bright future of the Bengals’ young core.
No. 3: Joe Burrow
It should come as no surprise to see more praise for second year quarterback Joe Burrow. Following his torching of the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs defense, Burrow has hit everyone’s radar as not only one of the top young quarterbacks in the league, but one of the best in the league, period.
Checking in at No. 3 on this list and as the second quarterback behind only Tom Brady, the ranking sites several reasons for Burrow’s “clutch factor.” Burrow leads the league in touchdown passes of 10+ air yards in the fourth quarter with eight.
One of the more exciting factors for Bengals fans is his success on third and fourth downs. On those downs, Burrow checks in at second out of all quarterbacks with a +7.9 completion percentage over expected. Simply put, he converts some crucial late-down plays that all of the numbers suggest he shouldn’t.
As anyone who has watched the Bengals this season, they know Burrow is no stranger to pressure. When blitzed in the fourth quarter, Burrow comes in as the third-rated signal caller in the league. A +10.5 completion percentage against expected takes us back to the “You can’t zero me!” proclamation from Week 4. You can come after him late in the game if you want, but the data suggests you’ll pay the price.
“Joey Franchise” is putting his stamp on the league by showing up in the biggest moments.
No. 7: Ja’Marr Chase
As the new leader for receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history, Ja’Marr Chase is no stranger to the big play. Chase not only leads the league in deep touchdown receptions with seven, he has the most in the history of the Next Gen Stats era, dating back to 2016.
As the article states, no rookie has ever lead the NFL in deep receptions for an entire season. Heading into a Week 18 meeting with the Cleveland Browns, Chase currently has a three-touchdown lead over the next closest receiver (Tyler Lockett).
It’s not just the deep ball where Chase makes an impact. On the third and fourth downs where Burrow was previously noted to excel, Chase has a direct effect on the success. On third and fourth downs, Chase has earned +102 yards after catch over expected. I’m sure the Baltimore Ravens can find where a few of those came from.
No. 10: Evan McPherson
While we all wrestle back and forth over what nickname he should have, Evan McPherson is focused on winning games for his team. After some internet chatter about using a fifth-round pick on a kicker, I think he has settled that conversation.
The “clutch” plays McPherson has made are surely to be remembered. He made an instant impact in the Week One win against the Minnesota Vikings, he drilled a game-winner against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. His most recent last second heroics landed Cincinnati at the top of the AFC North and in the postseason for the first time since 2015.
It should be noted that he had an overtime field goal convert against the San Francisco 49ers, but the defense was unable to keep San Francisco out of the end zone on the subsequent possession.
To have any Bengal show up in the top 10 of any national media rankings is great to see. The fact that this particular list is built around late game success, the future in Cincinnati appears to be in good hands for many years to come.