In just a few days from now, it's going to be Super Bowl Sunday. The world will be glued to their television screens for a game that was, more than five decades ago, originally set up as a way to determine the overall pro football champion, pitting the best of the NFL and the AFL against each other. It's since become the NFL championship game as we know it, with star-studded halftime shows, tons of must-see (and sometimes must-forget) new commercials, and as it was then, pro football's two best teams squaring off. But one has to wonder — who's the best quarterback in all of Super Bowl history so far?
Regarding this list, we shall be ranking these QBs with Super Bowl rings and weighing, as equally as possible, their career accomplishments, the quality of their Super Bowl-winning performances, and the number of Super Bowls won. So if we may spoil the rankings a bit, this may mean Brett Favre, who won just one Super Bowl, may be ranked ahead of someone like Jim Plunkett or Ben Roethlisberger, who won two each. Also bear in mind that we're making historical considerations here when it comes to stats — pre-1980s QBs may have thrown a ton of interceptions and had poor QB ratings by today's standards, but every quarterback in this list will be weighed against the fellow signal-callers of their era.
How does Tom Brady rank among all Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks? You'll find out in the list below. And how will Matt Ryan rank if the Falcons pull off an upset against the Patriots at Super Bowl LI? If Atlanta wins, make sure to join us as usual at TheSportster next year, should this list get updated come 2018.
31 TRENT DILFER (SUPER BOWL XXXV)
Trent Dilfer never lived up to the expectations one would have for a sixth-overall pick, but he did have a fairly successful 13-year NFL career overall, and he did somehow win a Super Bowl with the Ravens. But he did so registering some pretty mediocre stats as Baltimore routed the New York Giants, 34-7, at Super Bowl XXXV. While he went just 12-for-25 and got sacked thrice, he had one touchdown pass and no interceptions, and thoroughly outplayed the Giants’ Kerry Collins, who was downright awful that night.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens relied on a defense led by Ray Lewis and a run-heavy offense led by Jamal Lewis, and had a great year despite of, not because of Dilfer. He joined the Seahawks in 2001, and didn’t start regularly again until he became one of the new Cleveland Browns’ gazillion starting QBs in 2005.
30 JEFF HOSTETLER (SUPER BOWL XXV)
Filling in for an injured Phil Simms, career backup Jeff Hostetler became the man of the hour for the New York Giants at Super Bowl XXV, quietly leading his team to a close 20-19 win over perennial ‘90s Super Bowl losers Buffalo. He connected on just one touchdown pass, hitting Stephen Baker with a short 14-yard pass in the second quarter, and didn’t throw any interceptions.
However, we all know who the real MVP was for the Giants – Bills kicker Scott Norwood, whose last-second, potential game-winning kick attempt went wide right. Hostetler’s solid Super Bowl XXV performance convinced future Giants head coach Ray Handley to make the genius (yeah, right) move of promoting him to the starting lineup in 1991, and while he wasn’t bad in that role and wasn’t bad either starting for the Oakland Raiders later on, he's anywhere but near Hall of Fame consideration.
29 BRAD JOHNSON (SUPER BOWL XXXVII)
Up to now, this writer still finds it hard to tell turn-of-the-millennium quarterbacks Brad and Rob Johnson apart. But since they were teammates on the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, allow me to differentiate — Rob was the mediocre onetime Bills starter, and Brad was the slightly above-average onetime Vikings starter who helped the Bucs to a 48-21 rout over the Oakland Raiders at Super Bowl XXXVII.
With Rich Gannon throwing a ton of picks, Johnson didn't exactly set the world on fire, but he was the better QB, connecting with Keenan McCardell on two short TD passes and getting picked once. He somehow lasted 17 NFL seasons and played well as a starter in most of them, despite a very notable lack of arm strength.
28 MARK RYPIEN (SUPER BOWL XXVI)
These days, many of us probably know him as Angela’s father, and if you don’t know who Angela Rypien is, you may want to check out TheSportster’s list of hot NFL players’ daughters. Back in the day, Mark Rypien was an often-overlooked NFL star, producing solid numbers for the Washington Redskins as their starting QB in the late-'80s and early-'90s. And it was at Super Bowl XXVI where Ryp pulled off his biggest accomplishment as a pro – registering two TDs and one interception as the Redskins beat the Bills, 37-24.
Unfortunately, it was downhill all the way for Rypien after the 1991 season, as injuries contributed to his slide to mediocrity. Still, he was valued as a backup for his deep passing and experience, and had even made a brief comeback in 2001 at 39 years old, after being away from the NFL for four years.
27 JIM MCMAHON (SUPER BOWL XX)
Ah, the '80s. Synth-heavy new wave and polished pop metal. The Brat Pack ruling Hollywood. And the "punky QB known as McMahon" behind center for the Chicago Bears. Today, we remember the 1985 Bears for their cheesy rap song, the "Super Bowl Shuffle." But with a stout defense, an aging, yet still-effective Walter Payton at running back, and Jim McMahon at quarterback, the Bears were a dominant team, and they routed the Patriots, 46-10, at Super Bowl XX.
McMahon, however, didn't help win it through his passing — with no interceptions nor touchdowns, he contributed mainly through his two scrambling touchdowns. And as far as his overall pro career went, he was a strong-armed risk-taker who had a good, lengthy career, albeit one that was marred by injuries and inconsistency, and one that wasn't worthy of his high (ninth-overall in 1982) draft selection.
26 DOUG WILLIAMS (SUPER BOWL XXII)
Hard-throwing quarterback Doug Williams had helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an early, yet very fleeting taste of success during his first five seasons in the NFL. But he eventually had enough of owner Hugh Culverhouse's penny-pinching, and bolted to the USFL in 1983. He then returned to the NFL in 1986, eventually enjoying a brief run as the Washington Redskins' starting QB.
Aided by the "Three Amigos" receiving corps of Gary Clark, Art Monk, and Ricky Sanders (with third WR Sanders playing especially well) and the one-hit-wonder performance of Timmy Smith at RB, Williams had a terrific Super Bowl XXII, throwing four TD passes as the Redskins dominated John Elway's Denver Broncos, 42-10. But looking at his otherwise slightly above average career numbers, such a performance looked more like a fluke than anything else.
25 JOE THEISMANN (SUPER BOWL XVII)
Joe Theismann might not have won a Heisman Trophy to match his name, but he won Super Bowl XVII with the Washington Redskins, as he was leagues better than the Miami Dolphins’ awful duo of David Woodley and Don Strock (combined 4-for-17 passing). But he was merely adequate enough to help the Redskins win 27-17; he registered two TDs and two INTs, passing 15-for-23 and compiling a 75.1 rating. Not bad for the era, but not good either.
Career-wise, Theismann got off to a slow start and was, in fact, originally a punt returner when he joined the Redskins in 1974 after starting his pro career out in Canada. But he earned a starting job in the late-1970s, and never looked back, posting his best numbers toward the end of his 12-year NFL career.
24 JOE NAMATH (SUPER BOWL III)
It’s still one of the most iconic moments in NFL history – youthful, long-haired New York Jets QB Joe Namath guarantees that his team will beat crew-cut sporting oldster Johnny Unitas’ Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl III. With no touchdown passes nor interceptions, Broadway Joe played well enough to live up to his guarantee, with a 17-for-28 passing clip, and the Jets beating the Colts in a low-scoring game, 16-7.
Namath’s career numbers over 13 seasons – 173 passing TDs, 220 INTs, 65.5 QB rating, only two seasons with more TD passes than picks – wouldn’t cut the mustard in the modern NFL. We must address that elephant in the room, and let’s face it – even in those days, those numbers were average at best for an NFL quarterback. He was more pop culture icon than franchise-caliber QB, and while we can’t discount the five good seasons he had, remember again that he played 13 seasons.
23 KEN STABLER (SUPER BOWL XI)
Originally a risk-taking scrambler, Ken “The Snake” Stabler wasn’t doing much scrambling in 1976, but he was in the prime of his career, regularly throwing long passes to star receivers Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. But it was a short one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dave Casper early on in the game that helped the Oakland Raiders race off to a 19-0 lead, and eventually a 32-14 win at Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings. All in all, it was a quiet but effective game for the recent Hall of Fame inductee.
The Super Bowl XI win came in the same season where Stabler led the NFL in both touchdown passes (27) and QB rating (103.4) and two years after he won his only MVP award. But while Stabler had led some talented Raiders teams in the 1970s, he often alternated strong seasons with interception-prone ones, and finished his 15-year career with 194 TD passes, but 222 interceptions.
22 JOHNNY UNITAS (SUPER BOWL V)
Had we counted NFL championships in the pre-Super Bowl days, Johnny Unitas would rank higher. But he was already in the second half of his legendary career when the Super Bowl started, and an ancient, injury-riddled 37-year-old at the time of Super Bowl V, where Unitas’ Baltimore Colts ground it out to a low-scoring 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Unitas played poorly in this game, passing for one TD and two picks before an injury forced Don Shula to replace him with ace backup (and fellow graybeard) Earl Morrall, who wasn’t much better against the Cowboy’ defense. As such, it’s one of the less-impressive performances for a Super Bowl-winning QB, but Johnny U’s impressive NFL resume prevents him from falling out of the top 20.
21 RUSSELL WILSON (SUPER BOWL XLVIII)
It was a rather quiet performance for Russell Wilson at Super Bowl XLVIII, but his numbers were glowing enough to place him highly among one-time Super Bowl winners. With the Seattle Seahawks dominating the Denver Broncos, 43-8, the second-year quarterback went 18-for-25 and had two touchdowns with no interceptions and sacks. The youngster was clearly the better signal-caller that night, as an aging Peyton Manning completed almost 70 percent of his 49 pass attempts, but got picked twice.
With three Pro Bowls in five seasons, Wilson is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks of the present. And while his rushing stats have gone down in recent years, he still has a reputation as someone who could scramble, and scramble quite well if given the chance. It won’t be surprising if he earns himself more Super Bowl rings before his still-young career is over.
20 JIM PLUNKETT (SUPER BOWL XV, XVIII)
Jim Plunkett was the first-overall pick in the 1971 NFL draft, and it was in his tenth season when he won his first championship at Super Bowl XV, with three TD passes and no interceptions as the Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-10. He then had a quieter, yet still-effective performance as he led the Raiders, now based in L.A., to a 38-9 win over the Washington Redskins at Super Bowl XVIII.
While Plunkett undoubtedly stepped up when it counted most for the Raiders, he was mostly average-to-above-average in his 16-year NFL career. One might even call him a bust for a top draft pick and Heisman winner, though we probably won’t go there. Still, the numbers don’t lie – if he ever makes it to Canton, it won’t be on the first ballot.
19 JOE FLACCO (SUPER BOWL XLVII)
You can hardly ever go wrong with Joe Flacco in the postseason, as that’s where he lives up to his nickname of “Joe Cool,” unflappable under pressure. And at Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco capped off a career-defining playoff run by passing for three touchdowns with no interceptions, all in the first half, as the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, to win their second Super Bowl since Art Modell moved the original Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996.
As far as today's NFL quarterbacks go, Flacco in the regular season has mostly been an average Joe. But he's been one of the many "hits" in a position that's often hit-or-miss when it comes to first-round picks, standing out as always for his big throwing arm, but offering the right mix of skills that helped him avoid being the next JaMarcus Russell (read: all arm/tools, no game).
18 BOB GRIESE (SUPER BOWL VI, XII)
Weak arm, great leader, extremely smart player. That’s the best way to describe Bob Griese, whose lack of physical ability didn’t stop him from having a long and successful NFL career, and didn’t stop him from winning two Super Bowls in a row for the Miami Dolphins – Super Bowls VII and VIII. And while his QB rating in those two wins was excellent, the stats can be deceiving – Griese relied mainly on handoffs to fullback Larry Csonka and halfback Mercury Morris, and attempted just 18 passes combined in those two games.
That was also the story in the regular season – the 1970s Dolphins were especially run-heavy in an era that still favored the running game. But Griese, aside from standing out for his smarts and leadership, also made the most out of his limited pass attempts, leading the league in TD passes in 1977 despite the Dolphins attempting the sixth-fewest passes in the league.
17 LEN DAWSON (SUPER BOWL IV)
The losing quarterback in the very first Super Bowl, Len Dawson had to wait three years to get another chance to win the Big Game. And he did, as his Kansas City Chiefs convincingly won over the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7, at Super Bowl IV. Dawson played solidly, with one touchdown and interception each, but with extremely accurate passing for the era – 12-for-17, or 71 percent of his passes completed.
In the regular season, Dawson led the AFL four times in touchdown passes and six times in QB rating, though by the time the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, he was already 35 and slowing down. As such, this Hall of Famer is best-known as a true AFL success story; prior to the league’s formation, he was a hardly-used backup quarterback and well on his way to draft bust status as the fifth-overall pick in the 1957 draft.
16 ELI MANNING (SUPER BOWL XLII, XLVI)
Eli Manning’s numbers at Super Bowl XLII weren’t too memorable, but the “helmet catch” play with David Tyree that led to a game-winning touchdown catch for Plaxico Burress was. And if that one Super Bowl win and MVP award wasn’t enough, he led the Giants to another come-from-behind win at Super Bowl XLVI, as the Giants won, 21-17. And once again, it was against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. That’s right – if the Patriots have their equivalent of Kryptonite at the Super Bowl, it’s the New York Giants.
Manning’s late-game Super Bowl heroics don’t disguise the fact that he hasn’t shown the same ability or produced the same numbers as his older brother Peyton. But that’s not to say that Eli has been a bad quarterback. Far from it. In 13 seasons, he’s made four Pro Bowls, though there’s also the matter of his three seasons leading the league in interceptions thrown, including his particularly horrid 2013 campaign.
15 KURT WARNER (SUPER BOWL XXXIV)
Who would have guessed that a 28-year-old second-year player who barely played as a rookie would become NFL MVP and win a Super Bowl for his team in that sophomore pro season? It was a true Cinderella story for the grocery bagger-turned NFL superstar, as he rewarded St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil’s surprising faith in him, taking the Rams to a 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans at Super Bowl XXXIV. He passed for two touchdowns, including the game-winning 73-yard TD pass to Isaac Bruce with less than two minutes left in the game.
Warner would get to play in two more Super Bowls, albeit as the losing quarterback, and it was quite remarkable that his final Super Bowl came as part of the Arizona Cardinals, where, despite being in his late-30s, he replaced the disappointing Matt Leinart behind center. He had only six strong seasons in his career, but when he was good, he was very, very good, and his late-career resurgence with the Cardinals is still worth looking back at.
14 BEN ROETHLISBERGER (SUPER BOWL XL, XLIII)
Nobody has played so bad in a Super Bowl yet gone on to win it. At Super Bowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger was downright terrible, connecting on 9 of 21 passes, getting picked twice, throwing no touchdown passes, and finishing with a 22.6 QB rating. Yet the Pittsburgh Steelers still beat the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, and Big Ben did contribute one rushing TD to his team’s cause. He would play much better at Super Bowl XLIII as the Steelers won a close 27-23 game over the Arizona Cardinals.
Thanks in part to his cannon arm and impressive physical build, Roethlisberger has carved out a very productive NFL career, making it to five Pro Bowls in 13 seasons. We have to wonder, though, if we’ll be seeing him back with the Steelers in 2017, considering he’s been making a bit of noise recently for debating on whether to retire at the rather young age of 34.
13 JOHN ELWAY (SUPER BOWL XXXII, XXXIII)
With the Denver Broncos getting routed in three Super Bowl appearances in the mid-late-‘80s, John Elway was way off-form. He was also far from his best at Super Bowl XXXII, with no TD passes and one interception as the Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, behind three Terrell Davis rushing touchdowns. But he literally saved his best for last, as the Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl XXXIII, with Elway winning game MVP honors.
Numbers often tell a lot, but not when it comes to John Elway. He never led the league in any major passing category, except in 1993, when he led the NFL in passing yards. His 148-82-1 record as a starting quarterback is a better indicator of his greatness, same with his leadership and intangibles taking precedence over his already-impressive physical attributes and merely-above-average-ish career stats. The man was a winner, and no traditional stat can take that away from him.
12 PHIL SIMMS (SUPER BOWL XXI)
What a performance it was for Phil Simms at Super Bowl XXI. 22 completions out of 25 attempts, three TD passes, no interceptions, 150.9 QB rating. He had rightfully won Super Bowl MVP honors for his scintillating performance, as the New York Giants trampled the Denver Broncos, 39-20. He had stepped up when his team had needed him most, and his 88 percent passing accuracy is a record that still stands to this day. Yes indeed, Phil Simms was going to Disney World alright.
Although Simms was terrific slightly over thirty years ago to this date at Super Bowl XXI, his career doesn’t exactly scream “franchise quarterback.” He was wildly inconsistent and injury-prone as a younger QB, and was quite average in the 1986 season. He did put together some top-flight seasons in 1987 onwards, but as far as Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks go, there are many better overall.
11 BART STARR (SUPER BOWL I, II)
He’s the very first Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and also the second. And he’s the only such QB to get a Simpsons episode named after him, you know, the one where Joe Namath tells us all about vapor lock. But going back to the NFL, Bart Starr did win Super Bowl I and II with the Green Bay Packers, again overcoming his lack of an elite throwing arm with expert signal-calling and leadership. In wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, Starr’s combined Super Bowl stats are quite impressive for the era – three TDs, one INT, 106.0 QB rating, and 62 percent pass completion.
As the 1960s Packers were very run-heavy with Jim Taylor at fullback and Paul Hornung at halfback, Starr never registered more than 16 TD passes in a season. But he possessed excellent passing accuracy for his time, was only interception-prone early on and late in his career, and was more than deserving when he made it to the Hall of Fame in 1977.
10 DREW BREES (SUPER BOWL XLIV)
He may not have as many Super Bowl wins as some of his other contemporaries in this list, but Drew Brees can at least retire knowing that he’s the man behind the New Orleans Saints’ only championship so far. At Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17, and Brees was playing it safe with relatively short passes, but connecting on over 80 percent of them, and finishing with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. It was more than enough to help him win Super Bowl MVP honors.
In 16 seasons, Brees is looking like a potential Hall of Fame candidate, with multiple records for his passing feats, including a whopping 11 straight seasons with more than 4,000 yards passing. And even if he's now 38, who knows if he can add another Super Bowl win to his resume before he's done?
9 AARON RODGERS (SUPER BOWL XLV)
Though it was close in the end, the Green Bay Packers led all the way when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, at Super Bowl XLV. And a lot of it was driven by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who won Super Bowl MVP honors by throwing three touchdowns, no interceptions, and completing 24 of his 39 passes for 304 yards. It was an impressive-as-usual performance for Rodgers, and one of the best Super Bowl performances for a quarterback thus far.
A two-time NFL MVP and a six-time Pro Bowler, Rodgers also has the impressive distinction of having six straight seasons with less than ten interceptions. He’s put up good to great numbers in the nine seasons since he was promoted to starter, and if he keeps it up in the years to come, he may turn out to be better than the man he replaced (Brett Favre), and may even win a Super Bowl or two before he’s done.
8 PEYTON MANNING (SUPER BOWL XLI, 50)
When it comes to the statistical performance of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Peyton Manning is pretty much close to the bottom. But he still won the Big Game twice, once with the Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLI, and a second time at Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos, where he played what turned out to be the final game in his illustrious career. It’s Manning’s Super Bowl 50 that stands out in the wrong way – no TDs, one interception, 13-for-23 passing, 56.6 QB rating. Still, he outplayed Cam Newton, and as the old adage goes, a win is a win.
Manning’s Super Bowl performances were duds compared to what he’s achieved in his general NFL career, which is a LOT. Already neck-and-neck with Tom Brady for the first decade of the 21st century as one of the NFL’s best QBs, he had a historic 2013 season for the Broncos, setting league records for touchdown passes in a season (55) and passing yards (5,477). He’s also the career leader in TD passes (539) by quite a healthy margin.
7 ROGER STAUBACH (SUPER BOWL VI, XII)
They called him Captain Comeback, but there was no need for any late-game heroics in the Dallas Cowboys’ two Super Bowl wins led by Roger Staubach. They were both comfortable victories (against the Dolphins at VI and Broncos at XII) that had Staubach registering a combined three TDs with no interceptions, and passing very accurately at 29-for-44. And while we normally don’t dwell on Super Bowl losses, Staubach did try valiantly to rally the Cowboys from behind in the two Super Bowls they lost in the ‘70s.
Staubach only got to play in the NFL in 1969 at age 27, as his Navy commitments kept him away from pro football for five years. But after stumbling a bit in his first two years, he established himself as the man at QB for the Cowboys as one of the least interception-prone signal-callers of his time. We can’t help but wonder how much greater he would have been had the Navy not taken away such a chunk of his career.
6 BRETT FAVRE (SUPER BOWL XXXI)
It took almost three decades for the Green Bay Packers to win their third Super Bowl. After years of over-the-hill (John Hadl), one-hit-wonder (Don Majkowski), or downright disappointing (Rich Campbell) quarterbacks, the Packers were back at Super Bowl XXXI, led by their superstar quarterback Brett Favre. And they won it over the New England Patriots, 35-21, with Favre contributing two touchdown passes and rushing for another. It was a pretty good performance for the man who wasn’t just the best Packers QB since Bart Starr, but arguably better.
Favre’s two Super Bowl appearances (the Packers lost to the Broncos at Super Bowl XXXII) came at the peak of his career, as he led the NFL in TD passes thrice in a row from 1995 to 1997. And while one can bring up his troubled personal life (read: sexting scandal) late in his career, he did keep playing at a high level into his 40s, finally retiring in 2010 at the age of 41.
5 STEVE YOUNG (SUPER BOWL XXIX)
Technically, Steve Young has two Super Bowl wins, but as he was Joe Montana’s backup at Super Bowl XXIV, we’re going to talk about his amazing, record-setting six touchdown passes (with no interceptions) at Super Bowl XXIX, as the San Francisco 49ers routed the San Diego Chargers, 49-26. He accumulated 325 passing yards and finished with a 134.8 QB rating, and was truly stepping up as the onetime backup to a franchise QB turned into a superstar into his own right.
Aside from his long tenure as Montana’s backup, Young’s pro football career started off slowly, as the top pick in the 1984 supplemental draft initially bombed with the then-horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After getting promoted to starter in 1991, he would go on to lead the NFL in TD passes four times and win two MVP awards as a late-blooming, would-be Hall of Famer.
4 TERRY BRADSHAW (SUPER BOWL IX, X, XIII, XIV)
The Pittsburgh Steelers was the NFL’s team of the ‘70s, boasting of the vaunted Steel Curtain defense, Franco Harris at running back, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth at wide receiver, and a hard-throwing gunslinger from Louisiana Tech named Terry Bradshaw. He made history in 1978 with a four-TD, one-INT performance against the Dallas Cowboys and his third Super Bowl ring, and broke his own record in 1979 as the Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19, good for a fourth championship as starting QB.
Talking about his overall career, Bradshaw got off to a very rocky start, throwing a combined 19 touchdowns and a whopping 46 interceptions in his first two seasons. And if you look at his career numbers, a 212/210 ratio and 70.9 QB rating isn’t anything to write home about, even for his time. But even if Bradshaw did have a problem throwing picks for most of his career, he won lots of games, and stepped up when most needed, as shown by his perfect 4-0 Super Bowl record.
3 TROY AIKMAN (SUPER BOWL (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
For most of the early-mid-‘90s, the Dallas Cowboys were the NFL’s team to beat – they may have partied hard, but they also won a ton of games, and three Super Bowls with Troy Aikman behind center. His first Super Bowl (XXVII) was by far his best, as he hit Michael Irvin for two of his four touchdown passes, easily winning MVP honors as the Cowboys routed the Buffalo Bills, 52-17. Super Bowl XXVIII (also against the Bills) was meh, but Aikman made up for it with solid play at Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As he played on Dallas Cowboys teams that were mainly driven by Emmitt Smith’s fantastic play at running back, Aikman only passed for more than 20 TDs once, back in 1992. But he made Jimmy Johnson’s decision to go with him as franchise quarterback look like the best thing he possibly did, as he overcame two interception-prone seasons at the start to carve out a Hall of Fame career. Would the Cowboys have won so much in the ‘90s had they gone with Steve Walsh instead?
2 TOM BRADY (SUPER BOWL XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX)
It's an old refrain that's been mentioned countless times. No advance hype, average throwing arm, average physical tools, bad combine, 199th pick overall in 2000. The Lou Gehrig to Drew Bledsoe's Wally Pipp. Now, he just may be on track to becoming the G.O.A.T. among all quarterbacks, and as far as Super Bowl-winning QBs go, he's pretty darn close to topping this list. (We'll find out why in our very next entry.)
Looking at his statistics alone in his four Super Bowl wins and two MVP awards in the Big Game, Brady’s numbers look good, but not necessarily eye-opening. Still, it’s his uncanny ability to step up in big games and rally his team to victory that puts him ahead of all but one of his fellow four-time winners. He's got four wins in six Super Bowl appearances, but can he make it five out of seven and overtake the top-ranked QB in this list? We'll find out in just a few days from now.
1 JOE MONTANA (SUPER BOWL XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV)
And now, we’re down to our number one quarterback in this list – the original Joe Cool himself, Joe Montana. Yes, it’s true that Tom Brady makes a very good case to top this list based on his current accomplishments, but as far as the Big Game goes, nobody stepped up like Montana did for the San Francisco 49ers. I mean, look at that combined 127.8 QB rating and 11-0 TD/INT ratio in four Super Bowls! And while many of us remember Brady’s Super Bowl XLIX comeback, Montana had a big one of his own in Super Bowl XXIII against the Bengals, with that memorable 92-yard drive with less than three minutes remaining.
Montana’s regular season resume isn’t as good as Brady’s, and his solid-but-unspectacular final years with the Kansas City Chiefs are a far cry from his glory years as a 49er. But you've got to consider his big-game ability, and how his regular season work was more than good enough to get him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. Not bad at all for someone who was also drafted well after the first round.