Three years ago, I looked at the career leaders in 4th quarter (and overtime) game-winning touchdown passes. That post is ready for an update, and there’s been some interesting movement at the top of the charts.
As a reminder: tracking things like game-winning touchdowns is only interesting in a trivial sort way. I looked at all games, regular and postseason, in all leagues, from 1940 (and before 1940 for postseason games) to 2015, and counted all touchdowns scored that put the player’s team ahead for good (with one exception: I did not count touchdowns scored when down by 7 and the team successfully went for two afterwards). The table below shows all players with at least 4 such game-winning touchdown passes.
Incredibly, Johnny Unitas is still the record-holder in this category. In 23 games, Unitas threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to win the game for the Colts. His first came against Washington in 1956, with his last coming 14 years later against the Bears. The table below provides a link to all 23 such fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdown throws by Unitas:
|Num||Year||Opp||Boxscore||Date||Trailing By||Score Before||Score After||Receiver|
Tom Brady was at 15 game-winning touchdown throws three years ago, but threw two in 2013, two in 2014 (both in the playoffs), and one last year. It will obviously depend on how long Brady remains both active and at the top of his game, but he seems to have a very good chance of at least tying Unitas before his career ends.
But let’s not forget about… Jay Cutler? With three such throws in 2013, another in 2014, and four last year (against Kansas City, San Diego, and a 4QGWTDP In Name Only against Tampa Bay), the Bears quarterback is now only three behind Brady and six behind Unitas for the record. For what it’s worth, Cutler also “lost” one such game by my 2-point conversion rule: trailing 38-31 against the Chargers in 2008, Cutler threw a 4th-and-4 touchdown and then the two-point conversion to Eddie Royal, but that doesn’t go down as a 4QGWTDP by this system. Then again, maybe Cutler doesn’t really deserve credit for that one, anyway.