Breaking down clutch rating in 'Madden 13'

Tim Tebow's skills are enhanced in the fourth quarter by his clutch rating in "Madden 13." Courtesy of EA Sports

Play "Madden 13" as Tim Tebow and the Jets, and you’ll see throws sail out of bounds and bounce at your receiver’s feet for three quarters. But if the score is within eight points heading into the final two minutes or overtime, that’s when you see a completely different Tebow out on the field. All of a sudden, throws that were wildly misguided earlier in the game are now hitting his targets in stride. Tebow’s running through tackles, making throws on the run and performing in “Madden” like he did last season for the Broncos, giving every ounce of effort to erase your memory of what happened in the prior possessions because “all he does is win.”

In “Madden 13,” this is defined as the clutch trait. There are 38 players in "Madden 13" with the ability to make spectacular plays with the game on the line, flipping the script in the final minutes of a tight game to help you win, even if your quarterback has been struggling to the point of controller-throwing madness.

Or as “Madden 13” producer Donny Moore likes to say, “play Mark Sanchez for three quarters, then put Tebow in to finish them off in the fourth quarter.”

Here’s what else Moore had to say when I asked him for a detailed explanation about how the clutch trait works, as well as a list of every player in the game who can come through for you when you need it most.

ESPN Playbook: How do players earn the clutch trait in “Madden 13”?

Donny Moore: A player must have demonstrated the ability to produce big plays in the biggest moments. For Adam Vinatieri, that was in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. For Marshawn Lynch, that was in the 2010-11 playoffs versus the Saints. Mario Manningham proved his “clutchness” this past Super Bowl with the huge catch against the Patriots. Tim Tebow became clutch during the 2011 regular season after leading the Broncos to multiple wins in come-from-behind situations. Bottom line -- there is no set way to become clutch; you just know it when you see it on the field.

Who is the most debated player who earned the clutch trait this year?

Santonio Holmes was the biggest debate for "Madden NFL 13." He obviously proved he was clutch in Super Bowl XLIII with the game-winning catch for the Steelers, but lately his play has not been at that level. We decided to keep his clutch trait for the start of the 2012 season, but we will watch him closely and will not hesitate to remove it if he’s lost that spark.

Who was the most debated player who was left off of the list?

There was some debate to include a few more quarterbacks to the list, but overall we really like the players we have tagged as clutch in "Madden NFL 13."

How does the clutch trait actually work in the game?

The assist on this one goes to our Madden Gameplay team.

• Quarterbacks who are clutch affect themselves and the entire offensive line. (Must be losing by 8 or fewer points or tied within last 2 minutes or OT)

• RB, WR, and TE affect only themselves. (Must be losing by 8 or fewer points or tied within last 2 minutes or OT)

• Kickers have boosted accuracy and power. (Must be losing by 3 or fewer points or tied within last 2 minutes or OT. Also, must be fourth down unless there are under 10 seconds left in the game)

• For defense, this trait only matters for DBs and LBs. The clutch trait will only affect the given player (not teammates). (Must be within a possession [winning or losing] in last 2 minutes or OT)

More details on the clutch rating:

Ratings that are adjusted include:

• QB: Awareness, Carry, Play Action, Throw Accuracy, Throw On Run

• OL: MAJOR boost to Pass Block

• RB: Carry, Catching, Pass Block, Stamina

• WR: Catch In Traffic, Catching, Release, Route Running, Spectacular Catch, Stamina

• TE: Catch In Traffic, Catching, Pass Block, Release, Route Running, Spectacular Catch

• K: Kick Accuracy, Kick Power

• S: Awareness, Catch In Traffic, Catching, Hit Power, Play Recognition, Pursuit, Tackle

• CB: Awareness, Catch In Traffic, Catching, Hit Power, Man Coverage, Play Recognition, Pursuit, Tackle

• LB: Awareness, Catch In Traffic, Catching, Hit Power, Play Recognition, Pursuit, Tackle

List of clutch players in “Madden NFL 13” (38 players total):

• Champ Bailey

• Darrelle Revis

• Eric Weddle

• Ed Reed

• Ray Rice

• Marshawn Lynch

• Frank Gore

• Maurice Jones-Drew

• Matt Prater

• Adam Vinatieri

• Rob Bironas

• Joe Thomas

• Patrick Willis

• Derrick Johnson

• Brian Urlacher

• Ray Lewis

• Ben Roethlisberger

• Eli Manning

• Peyton Manning

• Tom Brady

• Tim Tebow

• Drew Brees

• Aaron Rodgers

• Jared Allen

• Justin Smith

• DeMarcus Ware

• Clay Matthews

• Troy Polamalu

• Charles Woodson

• Jimmy Graham

• Antonio Gates

• Santonio Holmes

• Calvin Johnson

• Mario Manningham

• Steve Smith

• Anquan Boldin

• Larry Fitzgerald

• Andre Johnson