Super Bowl QBs By The Numbers

I thought it would be interesting to see which quarterbacks were the most effective on their path to Super Bowl glory. We’ve all heard of Montana’s game winning drive against Cincinnati, Namath’s Super Bowl guarantee, and Trent Dilfer’s uselessness.

But just how well (or how poorly) did they all play en route to their Championship victory? Who had the best run? Who was the most consistent? Who was downright awful?

While winning the Super Bowl is the most important part of the equation, it’s also important that the winning QB actually played well when he won. So for the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the QB ratings of each Super Bowl winning QB but with a twist.

For each one, I wrote down their QB rating in each playoff game and then computed an average. The ratings are written in sequence with the first playoff game being on the left followed by the next and so on until the Super Bowl which is always the far right. Since Super Bowls count for more, I wrote a “yes” if that QB scored a 100.0 or higher rating in the Super Bowl. It didn’t feel right if I didn’t include at least one factor that couldn’t be measured so if a QB had a game winning drive, I made a note of it in the far right column.

Not surprisingly, many QBs on this list scored a 100.0 or greater in the Super Bowl (29 of 49). It’s no secret that great QB play equals success.

If you don’t know what a good QB rating is, refer to this chart:

120+ Superior
100-119 Excellent
90-99 Great
80-89 Solid
70-79 Serviceable
60-69 Bad
50-59 Poor
< 50 Awful

I’ll give you my feedback afterward. Here are the results:


SB YEAR QB Ratings Avg. 100 in SB? GW Drive?
49 2014 Tom Brady 99.3, 100.4, 101.1 100.3 yes  yes
48 2013 Russell Wilson 67.6, 104.6, 123.1 98.4 yes
47 2012 Joe Flacco 125.6, 116.2, 106.2, 124.2 118.1 yes
46 2011 Eli Manning 129.3, 114.5, 82.3, 103.7 107.5 yes yes
45 2010 Aaron Rodgers 122.5, 136.8, 55.4, 111.5 106.6 yes
44 2009 Drew Brees 125.4, 106.5, 114.5 115.4 yes
43 2008 Ben Roethlisberger 98.4, 84.8, 93.2 92.1 yes
42 2007 Eli Manning 117.1, 132.4, 72.0, 87.3 102.2 yes
41 2006 Peyton Manning 71.9, 39.6, 79.1, 81.8 68.1
40 2005 Ben Roethlisberger 148.7, 95.3, 124.9, 22.6 97.8
39 2004 Tom Brady 92.2, 130.5, 110.2 110.9 yes
38 2003 Tom Brady 73.3, 76.1, 100.5 83.3 yes yes
37 2002 Brad Johnson 76.8, 82.8, 79.9 79.8
36 2001 Tom Brady 70.4, 84.3, 86.2 80.3 yes
35 2000 Trent Dilfer 118.2, 58.6, 83.1, 80.9 85.2
34 1999 Kurt Warner 143.0, 56.2, 99.7 99.6
33 1998 John Elway 100.3, 65.0, 99.2 88.1
32 1997 John Elway 110.2, 83.2, 86.8, 51.9 83
31 1996 Brett Favre 107.4, 107.3, 107.9 107.5 yes
30 1995 Troy Aikman 101.6, 107.5, 108.8 105.9 yes
29 1994 Steve Young 104.9, 84.7, 134.8 108.1 yes
28 1993 Troy Aikman 103.7, 144.7, 77.2 108.5 yes
27 1992 Troy Aikman 112.1, 120.0, 140.7 124.2 yes
26 1991 Mark Rypien 52.4, 152.2, 92.0 98.8
25 1990 Jeff Hostetler 117.8, 75.5, 93.5 95.6
24 1989 Joe Montana 142.5, 125.3, 147.6 138.4 yes
23 1988 Joe Montana 100.5, 136.0, 115.2 117.2 yes yes
22 1987 Doug Williams 69.2, 75.6, 127.9 90.9 yes
21 1986 Phil Simms 111.0, 94.3, 150.9 118.7 yes
20 1985 Jim McMahon 120.3, 96.1, 104.2 106.8 yes
19 1984 Joe Montana 82.1, 60.0, 127.2 89.7 yes
18 1983 Jim Plunkett 82.0, 77.4, 97.4 85.6
17 1982 Joe Theismann 149.1, 113.1, 100.0, 75.1 109.3
16 1981 Joe Montana 104.8, 81.4, 100.0 95.4 yes
15 1980 Jim Plunkett 72.4, 33.9, 155.8, 145.0 101.7 yes
14 1979 Terry Bradshaw 111.0, 90.8, 101.9 101.2 yes
13 1978 Terry Bradshaw 95.8, 89.7, 119.2 101.5 yes
12 1977 Roger Staubach 89.9, 71.8, 102.6 88.1 yes
11 1976 Ken Stabler 92.3, 116.7, 111.7 106.9 yes
10 1975 Terry Bradshaw 46.8, 61.7, 122.5 77 yes
9 1974 Terry Bradshaw 116.8, 59.7, 108.0 94.8 yes
8 1973 Bob Griese 103.7, 27.8, 110.1 80.5 yes
7 1972 Bob Griese 104.2, 88.4 96.3
6 1971 Roger Staubach 114.9, 67.6, 115.9 99.4 yes
5 1970 Johnny Unitas 106.2, 77.8, 68.1 84
4 1969 Len Dawson 82.5, 68.0, 90.8 80.4
3 1968 Joe Namath 68.9, 83.3 76.1
2 1967 Bart Starr 100.3, 111.6, 96.2 102.7
1 1966 Bart Starr 143.1, 116.2 129.8 yes

23 QBs averaged a 100 QB rating or more in the entire Super Bowl run.

Highest Scores For Entire Run
1.  Joe Montana   (138.4)
2.  Bart Starr    (129.8)
3.  Troy Aikman   (124.2)
4.  Phil Simms    (118.7)
5.  Joe Flacco (118.1)
6.  Joe Montana   (117.2)
7.  Drew Brees    (115.4)
8.  Tom Brady     (110.9)
9.  Joe Theismann (109.3)
10.  Troy Aikman   (108.5)
Just 4 QBs averaged lower than an 80 QB rating on their way to victory.

Lowest Scores For Entire Run
1. Peyton Manning (68.1)
2. Joe Namath     (76.1)
3. Terry Bradshaw (77.0)
4. Brad Johnson   (79.8)

By far the most consistent QB was Brett Favre. His 3 ratings were: 107.4, 107.3, 107.9. Jesus!! Oddly enough, Favre didn’t get the Super Bowl MVP award.

While we’re on the topic of consistency, the following QBs scored a 100.0+ average AND recorded no lower than a 90.0 in every playoff/Super Bowl game:

Brady (2014)
Flacco (2012)
Brees    (2009)
Brady    (2004)
Favre    (1996)
Aikman   (1995)
Aikman   (1993)
Aikman   (1992)
Montana  (1989)
Montana  (1988)
Bradshaw (1979)
Stabler  (1976)
Starr    (1967)
Starr    (1966)

How about Troy Aikman? Wow. I know he had Emmitt to lean on but give the guy credit. He was brilliant in every Super Bowl run.

As if you didn’t already know, Joe Montana was a sick dog in every playoff run. He had just one bad game (60.0) and scored a 100.0 or greater in 9 of the 12 games he played!! Montana should just change his middle name to Super Bowl. That has a nice ring to it.

Tom Brady had a game winning drive in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XLIX.  He had a would be game winning drive in Super Bowl XLII and nearly had a salt the game away drive in XLVI.  Not too shabby…

The best ratings for any playoff game were:
Jim Plunkett (155.8)
Phil Simms (150.9)
Joe Theismann (149.1)
Ben Roethlisberger (148.7)
Joe Montana (147.6)

The worst ratings for any playoff game were:
Ben Roethlisberger (22.6)
Jim Plunkett (33.9)
Peyton Manning (39.6)
Terry Bradshaw (46.8)
John Elway (51.9)

It’s really odd that Jim Plunkett and Ben Roethlisberger made both of the above lists. Inconsistency everywhere.

The 2 most surprising results centered around the Mannings

He’s definitely a pube but Eli Manning played quite well. He average 102.2 for his first Super Bowl run, although I must point out that his 2 best scores came against weaker opponents at the beginning of his run. Still, it’s impressive. I don’t think you can really say that his D carried him all the way to the Championship. They were certainly a huge part of it – and a much bigger part than Eli – but ultimately, Eli had to make quite a few plays as well.  Eli was even better in his second run posting a rating of 107.5  Naturally, after we all want to correnate him, Eli has led his Giants to exactly zero playoff appearances.  Perhaps the biggest trick or treat QB in NFL history?

It’s no secret that Peyton Manning becomes mortal come playoff time. However, I still could not believe he ended up with the lowest rating of any Super Bowl run in the history of the NFL!! In fact, the 2nd worst was 8 points higher so it really wasn’t even close. I recalculated his score 17 times because I thought I had done something wrong. I’m still not ruling out human error on that one. I do find it both ironic and amusing that Peyton was compared to Montana by the pigskin pundits. Peyton, who has the worst QB rating was compared with Montana who has the best. Only the press could be that blind.

On that note, the #1 run to me would be Joe Montana’s in 1988. All his ratings were over 100 including the Super Bowl, his average was 117.2, and to top it all off, he added a game winning Super Bowl drive.

Props go to Roger Staubach in 1979 when his Cowboys lost a nail biter to the Steelers 35-31. Staubach posted a 100.4 rating in that game. Not a bad way to lose a Super Bowl at all.

If I had to choose a QB who did the least to win a Super Bowl, it would be Bob Griese in 1973. His stat line read: 20 of 31, 266 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT… for the ENTIRE playoff run of 3 games! Ugggh. To put that in perspective, Tom Brady completed more passes in just Super Bowl 38 (32) than Griese ATTEMPTED in the entire ’73 playoffs! Dilfer at least did more than that and his 85.2 rating is better than Bob’s 80.5. Not surprisingly both Dilfer and Griese had top notch defenses and power running games to lean on.

I found the results of this wicked interesting but I must point out again that QB ratings are not the sole way to determine greatness. Certainly, a QB rating often sends a powerful message regarding a QB’s effectiveness (and that was the whole point of this article) but you can’t ignore other factors like game winning drives and clutch plays. While Peyton Manning might have the lowest QB rating of them all, it’d be foolish to think that means he’s not good or didn’t have some part in that Super Bowl run. It simply means he doesn’t deserve as much credit as a Montana or Starr who were nothing but spectacular during their respective Championship runs.




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