Some quarterbacks strike more fear into opposing defenses with the game on the line. 

NFL fans are a bit spoiled in this regard in 2021. Several young up-and-coming superstars are among the league's most clutch players, while a veteran over 35—who is third in fourth-quarter comebacks since 1960—is still coming up big when it matters. 

Some of the most clutch quarterbacks this year might shock fans, as a few of these players are past their prime and/or have otherwise underwhelmed outside of crunch time. Nonetheless, these five demonstrate how different styles of play can get things done. Some are traditional passers, while others lean into their mobility and strong arms. 

A subjective thing like "clutch" can be defined in many different ways. There is, of course, a big difference between a passer who comes up big in a regular-season game against a bad team and, say, an iconic connection between Joe Montana and Dwight Clark.

Looking specifically at the 2021 season, quarterbacks who have led comebacks late, no matter how they got there, needing a comeback in the first place, get the nod as the most clutch. A win is a win in the playoff formula, and there's a reason only five have pulled off more than two fourth-quarter comebacks so far, and only 10 have done it at least twice. 

Either way, the following five quarterbacks have consistently come up big this season, and in most cases, that is great news for their respective team's playoff outlook.

 

5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

When it comes to elite quarterbacks this year, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons isn't the first guy who comes to mind. 

But his performance late in games paints a dire picture as to where the Falcons would be without him. 

Ryan, who is tied for sixth all-time in fourth-quarter comebacks with 33, is tied for third in the NFL this season with three and has a trio of game-winning drives. He's also completing 67.7 percent of his pass attempts.

Even more impressive, all three of his comebacks occurred on the road. In Week 3, he led a late drive to secure a 17-14 win over the New York Giants. In Week 7, his team defeated Miami 30-28. And in Week 9, the Falcons recorded a 27-25 victory over the New Orleans Saints. 

The fact that Ryan led drives that secured three of the team's four wins speaks to his lethality when it matters most. He's doing it on a rebuilding team while backed by a defense that allows 28.8 points per game, the league's second-worst mark.    

 

4. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

What makes Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill so clutch? 

He typically takes what a defense gives him and hardly turns the ball over. 

The 33-year-old veteran ranks among the top 20 all-time in fourth-quarter comebacks with 25. He has a trio game-winning drives already this season.