QBs in the clutch: Skelton and the West

John Skelton was the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback of record for five game-winning drives in fourth quarters and OT last season.

Kevin Kolb was the team's QB of record for one of them.

That difference largely explains why Skelton is getting a chance to challenge Kolb for the starting job in 2012.

dond0808, writing in the comments section of our Sunday item, requested fourth-quarter stats for NFC West quarterbacks from last season.

"Cards fans seem to think Skelton was better than everyone else remembers," he wrote.

We've covered this ground at various points in the past, but it's worth another look with quarterback competitions under way. I've put together a chart showing fourth-quarter and overtime stats for 2011 NFC West quarterbacks. I don't find them all that conclusive.

Skelton's reputation for playing well late in games stems in part from how poorly he often played early in games. The disparity was often striking. He had four touchdowns and 10 interceptions on his first 20 pass attempts in games. That flipped to seven touchdowns with four interceptions on passes thrown later in games.

Skelton deserves credit for helping the team pull out victories to recover from a 1-6 start to the season. He also needs to improve his performance early in games to become a viable long-term starter.

The numbers for Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson are a little better than I would have anticipated. His inability to lead fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives was an issue last season.