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Top 20 Quarterback/Wide Receiver Duos in NFL History

Every superhero has his sidekick - every Batman needs a Robin.  In fact, there are very few athletes in sports who have attained championships on their own.  Even the greatest sports heroes of all time with their gaudy numbers, like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain or John Elway were unable to win the big one until they had a talented number two man, or a go-to guy.  Quarterbacks have often had the coveted positon – they get the acclaim as fans fawn over them.  They get the highest salaries – until Randy Moss came along.  They are the faces of franchises and their team’s hopes of success hang on their throwing arm.  However, history shows us that most hall of fame quarterbacks also had a hall of fame caliber wide receiver to throw the ball to. The two need each other to succeed.  They feed off each other, and they count on each other in the clutch. In the game of football there are no lone-rangers, no one man can do it all, but he must rely on those around him.

There are different factors that could be taken into account on such a subject as this: will it be measured in touchdowns, yards, victories, or championships?  Should it be a measurement of stats over an entire career or just a few prime years?  The NFL that we have today sees very few men stay with one organization for an entire career, making it necessary to also take into account what certain quarterback/wide receiver duos have done over certain, smaller time-periods.  There were so many to choose from, and inevitably some had to be left out.  Not everyone will agree with the author’s choices, but nonetheless here it is: the top 20 quarterback/wide receiver duos in NFL history.

21 20) Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss – 2000-2004

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20 19) Joe Montana to Dwight Clark – 1979-1987

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19 18) Kurt Warner to Torry Holt – 1999-2001

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18 17) Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce –1999-2001

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17 16)  Norm Van Brocklin and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch – 1951-1957

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In an era of football when the run was far more emphasized than the pass this exciting duo accomplished the impossible.  Norm Van Brocklin completed 333 passes to Elroy Hirsch for 7,200 yards, and 32 touchdowns with the Los Angeles Rams.  To give you an idea of the era they played in – in 1951 Hirsch had a breakout year of 1,495 yards in only 12 games - his closest competition was just over 800 yards.  That is astounding.

16 15) Tom Brady to Randy Moss – 2007-2010

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15 14) Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald – 2007-2009

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14 13) Brett Favre to Sterling Sharpe –1992-1994

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13 12) Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin – 1989-1999

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12 11) Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates – 2006-Present

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11 10) Johnny Unitas to Raymond Berry – 1956-1967

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10 9) Joe Montana to Jerry Rice – 1985-1992

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9 8) Dan Marino to Mark Duper – 1983-1992

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8 7) Brett Favre to Antonio Freeman – 1995-2001, 2003

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7 6) Drew Brees to Marques Colston – 2006-Present

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6 5) Jim Kelly to Andre Reed – 1986-1996

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5 4) Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne – 2002-2010

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3 3) Dan Marino to Mark Clayton – 1983-1992

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2 2) Steve Young to Jerry Rice – 1991-1999

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1 1) Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison -1998-2009

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No other combo has scored more touchdowns – 112 - than Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison.  In their illustrious career together in ten seasons with Indianapolis, they amassed 953 catches for more than 12,000 yards.  Marvin Harrison retired holding the record for the most yards in a season (1,722) and most catches in a season (143).  He is only the fourth player to record 1,000 receptions in his career, and the seventh to score over 100 touchdowns (128).  Peyton Manning is not yet done writing the record books, but there is no other target that he will find to compare to Marvelous Marvin Harrison.  They were Super Bowl Champions in 2006.

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Top 20 Quarterback/Wide Receiver Duos in NFL History