5 Most Legendary Super Bowl QB Performances In NFL History

Quarterbacks are the focal point of most NFL teams, and the level of scrutiny only increases when pivots help their team make the Super Bowl.

The intense, worldwide media attention starting quarterbacks deal only increases the difficulty level of performing well on the field. Some players shrink from the spotlight, while others thrive and elevate their game.

The Super Bowl odds of any team winning the big game changes drastically along with the quality of the  quarterback. These five quarterbacks managed to pull of the best performances in Super Bowl history, etching their name as legends in NFL lore. Super Bowl LI features two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Tom Brady hopes to win an unprecedented fifth ring as a pivot this year, while Matt Ryan wants to establish his own legend with a Super Bowl win over one of the best QBs in history.

Scanned from page 378 of "The 1967 Laguiappe" Louisiana Tech yearbook by Michael Holley. Public Domain No Copyright Notice

Scanned from page 378 of “The 1967 Laguiappe” Louisiana Tech yearbook by Michael Holley. Public Domain No Copyright Notice

5. Terry Bradshaw

The original undefeatable quarterback in the NFL was Terry Bradshaw, who won all four of his appearances in the Super Bowl. He stepped his game up during championship situations, taking it upon himself to will the Steelers to victory each time. During his career, he rarely passed for more than 300 yards in a game, something he accomplished in three of his four Super Bowl wins. The “Blonde Bomber” reserved his best for Super Bowl XIII, where he exceeded his rival, Dallas Cowboys QB Roger Staubach.

Bradshaw completed 17 passes on 30 attempts with only one interception, totaling 318 yards and four TD tosses. He earned Super Bowl MVP in the process and a 119.2 passer rating, good for tenth best in Super Bowl history. At the time, the Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach were considered “America’s Team”, which further fuels the legend of Bradshaw’s performance. Terry’s fourth all-time with a 112.8 career Super Bowl passer rating, while Roger Staubach is tenth with a 95.4 rating.

4. Kurt Warner

One of the most unlikely rags-to-riches stories in North American pro sports involves Kurt Warner. After the Green Bay Packers released him in 1994 as an undrafted invitee to their training camp, Warner scored a job stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls, Iowa for $5.50 an hour. He worked his way back up the ranks by playing outstanding football in the Arena Football League, eventually earning a contract with the St. Louis Rams. When injury claimed the Rams starter, Kurt took full advantage of the opportunity granted to him, putting together one of the best seasons for a quarterback in NFL history.

The magical 1999 campaign ended with a Super Bowl XXXIV ring for Kurt Warner, who finished his transition from grocery store stock boy to Super Bowl MVP in a half-decade. During his first of three Super Bowl appearances, he completed 24-45 attempts, throwing 414 yards and two touchdown passes. Each completion was needed, as the Rams would beat the Tennessee Titans by exactly one yard. Warner would go on to post the top three games for a quarterback in terms of passing yards gained, including a 377-yard performance in Super Bowl XLIII and 365 yards in Super Bowl XXXVI. He lost these two Super Bowl matchups, but his first appearance and performance in the big game cemented his legendary status as the greatest comeback story in NFL history.

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3. Phil Simms

Since Kurt Warner appears to be a near-lock to finally earn a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it appears Phil Simms will soon be the only quarterback on this list without his own spot in Canton, Ohio. For this reason, he earns the Timmy Smith award of excellence, producing the best performance of his career on the biggest stage. Unlike Timmy, Simms stuck around the league to earn Pro Bowl appearances, eventually having his number retired by the New York Giants.

Simms was competent throughout his career, averaging a 78.5 passer rating over fourteen seasons. But nobody dared to predict that Phil would completely and utterly outplay John Elway in Super Bowl XXI, despite a nine-point spread for the Giants. The first half of the game featured closely-fought football, and Denver went into half-time with a 10-9 lead over New York.

The Giants dominated the rest of the way, producing 22 unanswered points on the strength of a near-perfect performance by Simms. Outscoring the Broncos 30-10 in the final two quarters, Phil ended up throwing 22 competitions on 25 attempts, earning three TD strikes and 268 yards that afternoon. As a result, he ended up setting a single-game Super Bowl record, finishing with an astronomical 150.9 passer rating.

2. Steve Young

In the shadow of Joe Montana, Steve Young had to deal with the unenviable task of carving his own reputation after 49ers fans were spoiled with four Super Bowls by their previous pivot. Even worse, management decided that Steve Bono was worth their time, cutting into Young’s playing time when Montana started to decline from his super-human form. Young also dealt with knee injuries and a terrible series of concussions that threatened his health and career. He overcame all these problems to become a worthy successor to Joe Montana, earning a pair of NFL MVP awards, setting passing records and leading his own 49ers squad to a ring.

Super Bowl XXIX was the game that silenced Steve Young critics forever, as he went ahead and tossed six TD passes on the way to bludgeoning the San Diego Chargers by a score of 49-26. He completed 24 passes on 36 attempts, throwing 325 yards and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 134.8 – the fifth best rating in Super Bowl history. He also ended up leading both teams in rushing yards, travelling 49 yards on only five carries.

Considering all the flak he took over the years, this Super Bowl MVP also had one of the best post-game winning quotes: “The critics and skeptics continue to backpedal.” Perhaps his doubters were taken aback by the light shining off Steve Young’s Super Bowl ring and MVP trophy.

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1. Joe Montana

Joe Cool’s the undisputed G.O.A.T. when it comes to Super Bowl quarterbacks, setting the standard for legendary passing performances. Over his four Super Bowl wins, he accumulated the best career passer rating among those with at least 40 attempts, earning an incredible 127.8 rating. He decided to save the best for last, and against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, the NFL witnessed Montana’s finest championship performance.

Throughout the entire evening, the Broncos secondary appeared to be at best a step behind, at worst completely flummoxed by Montana and his incredible group of receivers. By the time the half time show started, Montana threw three TD passes. The game was already over at this point, with the 49ers building a 27-3 lead after two quarters. He started the second half with two more TD strikes, including a 28-yard pass to Jerry Rice and a 35-yard throw to John Taylor.

Joe decided to chill out at this point, letting Steve Young, the next great San Francisco quarterback, take a few snaps for fun. Montana finished the game with a 147.6 passer rating, which was a record at the time. He made 22 completions on 29 attempts for 297 yards, throwing five TDs and finishing his Super Bowl career with zero interceptions. He did this against fellow great John Elway, who only managed 108 yards on ten completions, cementing Joe Cool’s legend for the ages.

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