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Rookie Quarterbacks to Win Playoff Games
The Cincinnati Bengals will visit the Houston Texans on Saturday, January 7. The game is noteworthy because it is the first playoff game of the Super Bowl era to pit two rookie quarterbacks. The Bengals will be led by first round pick Andy Dalton while the Texans will be led by T.J. Yates, a guy that started the season deep on the depth chart. At least one of these quarterbacks will earn a playoff win. We shouldn't be surprised by that because there is some precedent for rookies winning playoff games. Here are the four NFL rookie quarterbacks to win a playoff game since the 1970 merger.
Sanchez led the Jets on a late surge to reach the playoffs as a rookie in 2009. It was also the first year under head coach Rex Ryan. Sanchez had a great deal of success in leading the Jets in the playoffs. Once there, he led the Jets to road wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers before falling in the AFC Championship Game.
One year before Sanchez had his success, Flacco became the first rookie quarterback to win two playoff games. Also with a first year coach, Flacco led the Baltimore Ravens to a wild card berth following the 2008 season. The Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben quickly emerged as the starting quarterback early in his rookie season of 2004. He helped lead the Steelers to a remarkable 15-1 finish. In his first playoff game, Roethlisberger and the Steelers picked up a thrilling 20-17 overtime win against the New York Jets. One week later, Pittsburgh was soundly beaten by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Shaun King - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
King is not really remembered much for his NFL career. However, he was the first rookie quarterback to win a playoff game. After earning a bye in the playoffs following the 1999 season, King led his team in the divisional round against the Washington Redskins. He didn't have a huge game, completing less than half of his passes for one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. But King did help his team earn the 14-13 win. Tampa Bay lost the following week against the St. Louis Rams.
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