February 06, 2010
Everyone who follows the NFL knows that the upcoming matchup between Peyton Manning(notes) and Drew Brees(notes) is one of the most intriguing quarterback battles in Super Bowl history. If we look simply at quarterback rating, an imperfect but fairly universal statistic, Manning and Brees have the second-best total of regular-season efficiency in any Super Bowl. Brees' 2009 rating of 109.6 and Manning's rating of 99.9 total up to 209.5. There's only one better, and it's the one you might very well guess. After that, surprises abound. Here, aside from the one we're about to see, are the five best Super Bowl QB combos we've ever had.
No surprise that this is the one on top. In 1984, Marino took over the regular season, throwing for absolutely nuclear numbers and setting new records seemingly every week. Meanwhile, Joe Montana did his thing in under-the-radar fashion, biding his time. And when it counted, Montana did what Montana seemingly always did, outdueling Marino on the big stage. Joe Cool hit 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and three scores, while Marino threw two picks and 50 attempts, trying to compensate for a non-existent running game.
Surprised to see a game from early 1967 on this list? It's even more surprising when you consider that Starr was a 17th-round draft pick of the Packers, and Dawson was cast aside by two NFL teams before finding a home in the AFL. True to his stoic and always-efficient nature, Starr threw only seven incompletions in 23 passes as the Packers won the first Super Bowl. Dawson would have to wait three more years for another shot, when his Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
This was the last rave-up of the early version of Tom Brady, the kid whose big-game exploits were more impressive than his pure stats -- the spiritual son of Montana. For the third time in four years, the Patriots won a Super Bowl behind Brady's excellence. Close behind him, however, was the seemingly always-underrated McNabb, who finally got over the hump with the best offense he'd had (until perhaps very recently). Pats receiver Deion Branch(notes) won the MVP in that game, which soon caused the Seattle Seahawks to greatly overpay a decent receiver with a flukey performance. And speaking of the Seahawks...
This game is remembered most of all for controversial officiating, but it started with two great young quarterbacks ostensibly duking it out. Didn't work out that way -- Hasselbeck had a decent game, but Roethlisbeger stunk up Ford Field -- his 22.6 passer rating was the worst of any Super Bowl-winning quarterback. He did quite a bit better in the SB XLIII follow-up, amassing a 93.2 rating.
Super Bowl VI -- Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
Total passer rating: 195.7 (Roger Staubach 104.8/Bob Griese 90.9)
Once upon a time, the Cowboys were known as the team that couldn't win the big one. That all changed when Tom Landry made Roger Staubach his starter halfway through the 1971 season. It was a position he'd hold through the decade. Griese was the best young quarterback in the game, but he'd have to wait another year before his date with perfection; it was Staubach's turn this time.
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