AFC North: NFL Nation Confidential: Two-minute QB

NFLN Survey/Super Bowl QB: Bengals

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:00
AM ET
If the Super Bowl was on the line and your team had two minutes to march downfield for a game-winning score, who would you want playing quarterback?

Andy Dalton?

Out of the more than 300 NFL players who were anonymously surveyed by ESPN.com's NFL Nation team reporters, none would have the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback behind center with the biggest game of their careers on the line. Instead, they'd prefer New England's Tom Brady to lead a two-minute drill that would take them to championship glory.

It should be noted that players from all 32 teams who were interviewed for this survey were requested to consider quarterbacks who didn't play for their team. When initially asked this question, a couple of Bengals indicated they would keep their current starting signal-caller in the huddle if they were trying to rally for a late-game Super Bowl win. One, when asked not to include Dalton, said he'd make Bengals backup Josh Johnson his pick. He wouldn't budge, and for that reason, Johnson got one vote.

That anecdote was to show there was some loyalty in Cincinnati's locker room when it came to this particular survey question.

Still, the fact no other players outside the Bengals locker room picked Dalton is rather telling. His struggles in big games probably has something to do with the perception that he may not be a Super Bowl winner. Dalton is 2-4 in his three-year career in Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games. He's also 0-3 in the postseason and is 8-10 in division games. He's only won two games on the road against other AFC North teams.

Dalton's performance in "big games" doesn't mesh well with his overall showing. He has 30 wins in his first three seasons, an average of 10 a year. That's an admirable figure and certainly one worthy of the "Good Andy" designation.

But it's "Bad Andy" who fans and players outside of Cincinnati see most often on the national stage, making it easy to assume he isn't a good quarterback in the clutch.

All of this aside, though, the players certainly didn't go wrong with their pick of Brady. He is, after all, a three-time Super Bowl champion who engineered drives that led to game-winning field goals in two of them. The quarterback players picked behind him, Denver's Peyton Manning, has a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy with a two-minute drill Sunday when the Broncos face the Seahawks.

NFLN survey/Super Bowl QB: Steelers

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:00
AM ET
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning dominated ESPN’s NFL Nation survey of which quarterback players would most want if their respective teams needed a touchdown to win the Super Bowl with two minutes left in the game.

Brady (128) and Manning (86) combined to capture roughly two-thirds of the vote among the 320 players polled by ESPN’s NFL Nation.

Ben Roethlisberger received 20 votes to finish fifth among quarterbacks behind Brady, Manning, Aaron Rodgers (32) and Drew Brees (21).

Five of Roethlisberger’s votes came from teammates, a sign of how much his play at the end of close games is valued in the Steelers’ locker room.

Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to wins 33 times, including the postseason, in games in which they trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. His most famous rally came in Super Bowl XLV five years ago when Roethlisberger marched the Steelers 78 yards in eight plays for the touchdown that beat the upstart Arizona Cardinals, 27-23.

Roethlisberger capped the drive with a 6-yard pass that Santonio Holmes snared with a tip-toe catch before getting pushed out of bounds. That play delivered the Steelers’ record sixth Super Bowl title and remains frozen in time for Pittsburgh fans.

Had I been granted a vote I would have thought long and hard before giving it to Brady over Roethlisberger, and I think you could flip a coin between the two quarterbacks who have won a combined five Super Bowls.

Roethlisberger’s improvisational skills and his burning desire to win have long made him one of the best quarterbacks when the game is on the line. He has delivered every time? Of course not. But neither has Brady, who has been outdueled late in the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl losses by Eli Manning.

Eli Manning received nine votes in the anonymous survey followed by Andrew Luck (eight) and Matthew Stafford (seven) and Russell Wilson (three).

The only other quarterback to receive more than one vote? Matt McGloin, who picked up two of them.

Draw your own conclusions there.

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