For a second straight year, the Super Bowl has produced a compelling quarterback matchup. A year after Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes dueled in Tampa, former No. 1 overall picks Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford will vie to win their first championship in Super Bowl LVI.
Like last year, this year’s big game will include one of the more intriguing quarterback matchups in Super Bowl history. Below is a complete ranking of each of the Super Bowl’s 56 quarterback matchups, including Sunday’s between Burrow and Stafford.
The criteria when making the list included:
- Career accomplishments, both before and after the Super Bowl
- Where both quarterbacks were at that time in their career
- Their place on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
Without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes, Super Bowl LV
Feb 7, 2021: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9
No, this is not a prisoner-of-the-moment situation. And though the game didn’t play out as one of the best, the QB matchup is our No. 1. Widely considered to be the NFL‘s best quarterback, Mahomes is the youngest player in NFL history to win regular season and Super Bowl MVP trophies. And while he didn’t make it back to the big game this season, Mahomes was named to his fourth Pro Bowl while leading the Chiefs to a fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance.
The 44-year-old Brady capped off his career with a jaw-dropping 2021 season that saw him lead the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. A member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback who has ever played the position. He’s also the greatest Super Bowl quarterback of all-time, with 10 appearances, seven rings and five Super Bowl MVPs to boot. His three touchdown passes in last year’s Super Bowl propelled the Buccaneers to an upset win over the defending champions.
2. Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino, Super Bowl XIX
Jan. 20, 1985: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
Before Mahomes and Brady battled last year, this was the mostly highly anticipated Super Bowl quarterback matchup ever. Montana was in his prime and three years removed from leading the 49ers to their first title. Marino was coming off of an MVP season that saw him throw for then NFL records of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. Their performances in Super Bowl XIX lived up to the hype. Marino threw for 318 yards and a touchdown, while Montana threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 59 yards while leading the 49ers to their second Super Bowl title. While Montana won the hardware, Marino retired in 1999 as the NFL’s all-time leading passer and is arguably the greatest passer in league history as far as arm talent is concerned. Both players are members of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
3. Joe Montana vs. John Elway, Super Bowl XXIV
Jan. 28, 1990: 49ers 55, Broncos 10
The game was a dud, but Super Bowl XXIV featured two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time in Montana and Elway. Montana, who at the time was widely considered to be the greatest ever, was polishing off his fourth Super Bowl trophy and third MVP award. Elway, the league’s MVP just two years earlier, was playing in his third Super Bowl in a four-year span. Elway closed out his career with two Super Bowl wins and an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXIII, the final game of his career. Both quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame.
4. John Elway vs. Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXII
Jan. 25, 1998: Broncos 31, Packers 24
Favre entered this game as the NFL’s reigning three-time league MVP. He was also coming off of a victory in Super Bowl XXXI and was trying to become the fourth quarterback to win back-to-back titles. Standing in his way was the Broncos and Elway, whose diving run for a first down helped spearhead Denver to a 31-24 upset victory. In defeat, Favre threw for 256 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Elway relied heavily on Terrell Davis, whose 157 yards and three touchdowns earned him MVP honors. Both quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame.
5. Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach, Super Bowls X and XIII
Jan. 18, 1976: Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
Jan. 21, 1979: Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
The “Blonde Bomber” and “Captain America” faced each other in two of the most exciting Super Bowls ever. Bradshaw’s Steelers prevailed by four points in both games. In Super Bowl XIII, Bradshaw (the league’s MVP that season) threw for then Super Bowl records of 318 yards and four touchdowns while winning MVP honors. A four-time Super Bowl champion, Bradshaw won his second Super Bowl MVP following Pittsburgh’s win over Los Angeles in Super Bowl XIV. Staubach, who led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins during the 1970s, threw five touchdowns in two Super Bowls against Pittsburgh’s vaunted “Steel Curtain” defense. Both quarterbacks were first-ballot Hall of Famers.
6. Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning, Super Bowl XLIV
Feb. 7, 2010: Saints 31, Colts 17
Brees won MVP honors. Manning, who three years earlier led the Colts to a victory in Super Bowl XLI, won his second Super Bowl ring nine years later as a member of the Broncos. Manning is third all-time in career passing yards and touchdown passes. He is also a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Brees missed the cut despite being the NFL’s all-time career passing leader. He is also second all-time with 571 career touchdown passes. Both players will be in the Hall of Fame as soon as they are eligible.
7. Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl XLV
Feb. 6, 2011: Packers 31, Steelers 25
Rodgers and the Packers denied Big Ben the chance at becoming the fifth quarterback to win three Super Bowls. Instead, Rodgers became the third Packers starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl. He also won MVP honors after throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers’ Super Bowl win is flanked by league MVP wins in 2011 and in 2014. He is expected to win his third MVP during Thursday’s NFL Honors show.
8. Tom Brady vs. Kurt Warner, Super Bowl XXXVI
Feb. 3, 2002: Patriots 20, Rams 17
Warner strolled into this game fresh off of his second league MVP award in three years. Warner was also looking to win his second Super Bowl after leading the “Greatest Show on Turf” to a win in Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner and his teammates’ run at history ultimately came up short against the Patriots, who were about to embark on their own dynasty. Warner threw for 365 yards, but Brady’s last-minute drive set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal. Brady and Warner have won a combined five regular season MVPs and eight Super Bowls. They’ve also appeared in a combined 13 Super Bowls. Warner’s career has been enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Brady will join him in Canton as soon as he is eligible.
9. Bart Starr vs. Len Dawson, Super Bowl I
Jan. 15, 1967: Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10
The first Super Bowl featured two of the best quarterbacks of their era. The NFL’s MVP that season, Starr won his first of two consecutive Super Bowl MVPs after leading the Packers to a 35-10 win over the Chiefs. Starr won five titles in Green Bay and is the last quarterback to lead his team to three consultive titles. Dawson, who won MVP honors in Kansas City’s win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV, was a three-time AFL champion and a seven-time Pro Bowler. Both quarterbacks are members of the Hall of Fame.
10. Troy Aikman vs. Jim Kelly, Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII
Jan. 31, 1993: Cowboys 52, Bills 17
Jan. 30, 1994: Cowboys 30, Bills 13
Similar to Starr and Dawson, Aikman and Kelly were two of the best passers of their era. Kelly led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls, the only quarterback to do so. Aikman was the first quarterback to win three Super Bowls over a four-year span. In his first Super Bowl, Aikman won MVP after throwing four touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 52-17 rout of Buffalo. Dallas won the rematch while becoming the sixth team to win back-to-back titles. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
11. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Kurt Warner, Super Bowl XLIII
Feb. 1, 2009: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Three years after winning his first ring, Roethlisberger won his second after hitting Santonio Holmes for the game-winning score with 42 seconds remaining. Big Ben’s touchdown overshadowed Warner’s two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald. In defeat, Warner became the first quarterback to start in three Super Bowls with two different teams. He also had the three highest passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history. Roethlisberger is expected to one day join Warner in Canton.
12. Terry Bradshaw vs. Fran Tarkenton, Super Bowl IX
Jan. 12: 1975: Steelers 16, Vikings 6
“Scrambling Fran” retired as the NFL’s all-time passing leader. He was also an incredibly hard quarterback to tackle, hence his nickname. The Steelers did manage to get to him in Super Bowl IX, as they held Tarkenton to just 102 yards passing while intercepting him three times. Bradshaw, who threw for just 96 yards, hit Larry Brown for the game-clinching score. Tarkenton was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, three years before Bradshaw’s induction.
13. Ken Stabler vs. Fran Tarkenton, Super Bowl XI
Jan. 9, 1977: Raiders 32, Vikings 14
The NFL’s MVP in 1974, Stabler and his teammates finally reached the mountaintop after defeating the Vikings, 32-14. Against the Vikings, Stabler had success throwing the ball to Fred Biletnikoff, who became the second receiver to win Super Bowl MVP. A left-handed passer who played in some of the most iconic games in NFL history, Stabler was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
14. Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning, Super Bowls XLII and XLVI
Feb. 3, 2008: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Feb. 5, 2012: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Yes, Manning was a .500 regular season quarterback. But he is also top-10 all-time in career passing yards and passing touchdowns. Manning also went 8-4 in the playoffs, 2-0 in NFC championships, and 2-0 against Brady in Super Bowls. Manning was named MVP in both of his Super Bowl appearances.
15. Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson, Super Bowl XLIX
Feb. 1, 2015: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
The 37-year-old Brady was in the midst of a career resurgence. After a decade without a ring, Brady finally won his fourth Super Bowl after getting the better of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense. Brady also out-dueled Wilson, who was just completing his third season in Seattle. Since that game, Wilson has blossomed into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons, and is coming off of a career-high 40 touchdown season.
16. Russell Wilson vs. Peyton Manning, Super Bowl XLVIII
Feb. 2, 2014: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
While Wilson was coming off of his first Pro Bowl selection, Manning entered Super Bowl XLVIII fresh off of his fifth and final MVP award. Had these two both been in their primes, this one would have been a top-10 matchup. That being said, No. 16 isn’t too shabby.
17. Roger Staubach vs. Bob Griese, Super Bowl VI
Jan. 16, 1972: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
After watching the previous year’s Super Bowl from the sideline, Staubach won MVP honors in Super Bowl VI after throwing two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 24-3 win over Miami. Griese would have much better experiences in Super Bowls VII and VIII, as he won both games while becoming the first quarterback to start in three consecutive Super Bowls. Griese, like Staubach, is a member of the Hall of Fame.
18. Bob Griese vs. Fran Tarkenton, Super Bowl VIII
Jan. 13, 1974: Dolphins 24, Vikings 7
Tarkenton fell short in his first Super Bowl start, as the Vikings scored just one touchdown against Miami’s “No Name” defense. Griese threw a Super Bowl record low seven passes. But he completed six passes that included a key 27-yard completion to Paul Warfield. The duo played in a combined six Super Bowls, winning two.
19. Joe Montana vs. Ken Anderson, Super Bowl XVI
Jan. 24, 1982: 49ers 26, Bengals 21
When the 49ers and Bengals met in 1982, Anderson was the more accomplished of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks. The league’s MVP that season, Anderson had already been named to three Pro Bowls and had led the NFL in passing two different times. Anderson actually threw for nearly twice as many yards as Montana in Super Bowl XVI, but it was Montana that left the Silverdome with his first ring.
20. Bart Starr vs. Daryle Lamonica, Super Bowl II
Jan. 14, 1968: Packers 33, Raiders 14
One of the AFL’s biggest stars, Lamonica won three AFL titles (two with the Bills, one with the Raiders) and was league MVP in 1967 and in 1969. A five-time Pro Bowler, Lamonica went an impressive 66-16-6 as a starting quarterback. In his only Super Bowl, Lamonica threw two touchdowns but also threw a costly pick-six to Herb Adderley that sealed Green Bay’s 33-14 win.
21. Jim Plunkett vs. Joe Theismann, Super Bowl XVIII
Jan. 22, 1984: Raiders 38, Washington 9
The was the second meeting between quarterbacks who had already won a Super Bowl. Plunkett, the MVP of Super Bowl XV, won his second Super Bowl after helping the Raiders dethrone Washington, 38-9. Theismann endured a rocky second Super Bowl. He threw two interceptions and was sacked six times by the Raiders’ talented defense. Plunkett is one of just four players to win the Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP.
22. Phil Simms vs. John Elway, Super Bowl XXI
Jan. 25, 1987: Giants 39, Broncos 20
Simms won his first and only Super Bowl start, completing a Super Bowl record 88% of his passes. He also threw two touchdowns against zero interceptions while leading the Giants to victory. Elway, who threw for 304 yards in his Super Bowl debut, would win his first Super Bowl 11 years later.
23. Joe Montana vs. Boomer Esiason, Super Bowl XXIII
Jan. 22, 1989: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Esiason, the league’s MVP that season, is the NFL’s career passing leader for left-handed quarterbacks. As good as he was, Esiason didn’t complete enough passes in Super Bowl XXIII to prevent the 49ers from beating his Bengals to win their third title of the decade. Super Bowl loss aside, Esiason enjoyed a fruitful career that included four Pro Bowl selections and 247 career touchdown passes.
24. Tom Brady vs. Donovan McNabb, Super Bowl XXXIX
Feb. 6, 2005: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
McNabb enjoyed a career year in 2004. He threw 31 touchdowns during the regular season before leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl berth in 24 years. In Super Bowl XXXIX, McNabb’s three interceptions proved costly in the Eagles‘ loss to the Patriots. McNabb made five appearances in the NFC title game.
25. Kurt Warner vs. Steve McNair, Super Bowl XXXIV
Jan. 30, 2000: Rams 23, Titans 16
This was a Super Bowl between a reigning and a future league MVP. Warner threw for a then Super Bowl record 414 yards for the Rams. McNair, who shared league MVP honors with Peyton Manning in 2003, had one of the best performances by a losing Super Bowl quarterback. McNair, his Titans trailing by a touchdown, saw his completion to Kevin Dyson fell one yard shy of the end zone on the game’s final play.
26. Tom Brady vs. Matt Ryan, Super Bowl LI
Feb. 5, 2017: Patriots 34, Falcons 28
The league’s MVP that season, Ryan has enjoyed a borderline Hall of Fame career. He was on his way to winning Super Bowl MVP before Dont’a Hightower’s forced fumble changed the complexion of the game and the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead. The first quarterback to lose an overtime Super Bowl, Ryan threw two touchdowns and competed nearly 74% of his passes.
27. Peyton Manning vs. Cam Newton, Super Bowl 50
Feb. 7, 2016: Broncos 24, Panthers 10
Manning was not the same player at this stage of his career, but he still had enough savvy to help the Broncos get to the finish line in what would be his final game. Newton won league MVP honors that season after becoming the first player in league history to throw 35 touchdowns and run for at least 10 scores in the same season. Newton struggled in Super Bowl 50, however, as he committed three costly turnovers in Carolina’s loss.
28. Brett Favre vs. Drew Bledsoe, Super Bowl XXXI
Jan. 26, 1997: Packers 35, Patriots 21
Favre was at the peak of his powers in 1996. His counterpart in that year’s Super Bowl was, too. Before Brady, the best quarterback in Patriots history was Bledsoe, who won a passing title during his second season in New England. Bledsoe possessed a cannon of an arm, but his four interceptions played a significant role in the Pats’ loss.
29. Joe Burrow vs. Matthew Stafford, Super Bowl XVI
Feb. 13, 2022: Kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET
This matchup could eventually wind up in the top 20 if both Burrow and Stafford receive gold jackets once their careers are over. A win on Sunday would certainly help bolster Stafford’s future Hall of Fame candidacy. He’s currently just behind Mahomes and Kelly and just ahead of Simms, McNabb, Randall Cunningham and Bledsoe in Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame monitor. Sunday will be only the 30th career start for Burrow, who could very well be on his way to a Hall of Fame career. But with neither earning his first playoff win until this season, for now we’ve got this matchup at 29.
30. Joe Namath vs. Earl Morrall, Super Bowl III
Jan. 12, 1969: Jets 16, Colts 7
Namath was already a star before Super Bowl III, but after leading the Jets to a stunning upset over the Colts, Broadway Joe reached legendary status. The opposite happened to his counterpart, who won NFL MVP that season after leading the Colts to a 13-1 record. While his career has not received much fanfare, Morrall came off the bench to help the Colts defeat the Cowboys in Super Bowl V. Two years later, he went 11-0 as the Dolphins‘ quarterback during Miami’s 17-0 season.
31. Jim Plunkett vs. Ron Jaworski, Super Bowl XV
Jan. 25, 1981: Raiders 27, Eagles 10
A 10-year starter in Philadelphia, the quarterback known as “Jaws” led the Eagles to their first winning season in over a decade in 1978. Jaworski helped lead the Eagles to four consecutive postseason berths that included a win over the rival Cowboys in the 1980 NFC title game. In the Super Bowl, Jaworski threw three interceptions to Raiders linebacker Rod Martin. Plunkett threw three touchdowns for the Raiders.
32. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Matt Hasselbeck, Super Bowl XL
Feb. 5, 2006: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
Though he threw for just 123 yards, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl. His counterpart, Hasselbeck, was bedeviled by costly penalties and an ill-advised interception late in the game. Along with helping lead Seattle to its first Super Bowl, Hasselbeck was a three-time Pro Bowler who retired as the Seahawks‘ all-time leading passer.
33. Doug Williams vs. John Elway, Super Bowl XXII
Jan. 31, 1988: Washington 42, Broncos 10
Williams was much better than his statistics would indicate. The first Black quarterback to be selected in the first-round of the draft, Williams led the previously dreadful Buccaneers to the NFC Championship Game. Three years later, Williams left Tampa after ownership refused to give him his desired contract (he was lowest-paid starting quarterback at the time and made less than 12 backups). Williams resurfaced in Washington. In Super Bowl XXII, Williams overcame a slow start to throw four touchdowns in the second quarter of Washington’s win over the Broncos. The first Black starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl, Williams was named the game’s MVP.
34. Mark Rypien vs. Jim Kelly, Super Bowl XXVI
Jan. 26, 1992: Washington 37, Bills 24
Kelly came into this Super Bowl fresh off of his first All-Pro selection. Rypien earned his second Pro Bowl selection in 1991 after throwing a career-high 28 touchdowns and helping lead Washington to a 14-2 record. In the Super Bowl, Rypien thew for 292 yards and two touchdowns and was named the MVP. In six seasons in Washington, Rypien posted a 45-27 regular season record.
35. Tom Brady vs. Jake Delhomme, Super Bowl XXXVIII
Feb. 1, 2004: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
After a brief playoff sabbatical, the ’03 postseason would be the first of 17 consecutive postseasons for Brady (not counting his injury-plagued 2008 season). Brady was part of an epic Super Bowl shootout against Delhomme, who threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns that included his game-tying touchdown pass with 1:08 left. Though his Panthers came up short, Delhomme enjoyed a successful seven-year run in Carolina.
36. Johnny Unitas vs. Craig Morton, Super Bowl V
Jan. 17, 1971: Colts 16, Cowboys 13
The NFL’s best quarterback during the league’s first 50 years, Unitas is a member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. A back-to-back NFL champion in 1958-59, Unitas was in the twilight of his career when he faced the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. He managed to complete a 75-yard touchdown pass to John Mackey before leaving the game with an injury. With the score tied late in the fourth quarter, Morton’s interception to Colts linebacker Mike Curtis set up Jim O’Brien’s game-winning field goal.
37. Roger Staubach vs. Craig Morton, Super Bowl XII
Jan. 15, 1978: Cowboys 27, Broncos 10
Morton, the first player to face a team that he had previously led to a Super Bowl, threw four passes to his former team in a 27-10 loss to the Cowboys. While his two Super Bowl appearances were duds, Morton is fondly remembered in Denver after helping lead the Broncos to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. Morton was 35-16-1 as the Cowboys’ starter and 43-26 as the Broncos’ starting quarterback.
38. Troy Aikman vs. Neil O’Donnell, Super Bowl XXX
Jan. 28, 1996: Cowboys 27, Steelers 17
Aikman was coming off a season that saw him earn his fourth of five consecutive Pro Bowl berths. O’Donnell, a Pro Bowler three years earlier, came into the Super Bowl with the lowest career touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history. And while he did throw a then Super Bowl record 28 completions, O’Donnell’s two interceptions to Larry Brown short-circuited the Steelers’ comeback attempt. The interceptions overshadowed O’Donnell’s success in Pittsburgh that included four postseason berths.
39. Joe Flacco vs. Colin Kaepernick, Super Bowl XLVII
Feb. 3, 2013: Ravens 34, 49ers 31
Neither quarterback made a Pro Bowl, but both made their mark during that time in pro football. Flacco posted a 10-5 playoff record that included his MVP performance in the Super Bowl. Kaepernick helped lead the 49ers to consecutive NFC title games. He threw for 302 yards while passing and running for scores against the Ravens. Down 34-29, Kaepernick drove the 49ers to the Ravens’ 5-yard-line before misfiring on three consecutive passes.
40. Tom Brady vs. Nick Foles, Super Bowl LII
Feb. 4, 2018: Eagles 41, Patriots 33
A Pro Bowler in 2013, Foles’ career endured a downward spiral before he re-joined the Eagles in 2017. Foles spent most of the year as a backup before Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury in Week 13. Foles caught fire in the playoffs. He threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ 38-7 rout of the Vikings in the NFL title game. In Super Bowl LII, Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns to win MVP honors. In defeat, Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards.
41. Tom Brady vs. Jared Goff, Super Bowl LIII
Feb. 3, 2019: Patriots 13, Rams 3
With respect to Goff, most fans outside of Los Angeles were hoping to see Brady face off against Brees, whose team suffered a controversial loss in the NFC title game. A Pro Bowler in 2017 and in ’18, Goff and his teammates joined the ’71 Dolphins as the only teams to not score a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
42. Len Dawson vs. Joe Kapp, Super Bowl IV
Jan. 11, 1970: Chiefs 23, Vikings 7
Kapp, a star in the Canadian Football League who’s often regarded as one of the toughest quarterbacks in pro football history, led the Vikings to their first NFL title in 1969. Kapp and his teammates fell short in Super Bowl iV against a more seasoned Chiefs squad. He spent the following season with the Patriots before quitting after the team drafted Jim Plunkett with the No. 1 overall pick.
43. Brad Johnson vs. Rich Gannon, Super Bowl XXXVII
Jan. 26, 2003: Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21
Two of the more underrated passers of their era, Johnson was a two-time Pro Bowler who led three different franchises to the postseason. Gannon was a four-time Pro Bowler and the league’s MVP in 2002. Johnson threw a pair of touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXVII, while Gannon’s three pick-sixes played a significant role in the Buccaneers’ victory.
44. Bob Griese vs. Billy Kilmer, Super Bowl VII
Jan. 14, 1973: Dolphins 14, Washington 7
The leader of “The Over the Hill Gang,” Kilmer led Washington’s veteran-laden team to its first Super Bowl appearance. While his offense failed to score a single point against Miami’s “No Name” defense, Kilmer otherwise enjoyed a solid run in Washington that included a 52-28-1 overall record and a Pro Bowl selection in 1972.
45. Steve Young vs. Stan Humphries, Super Bowl XXIX
Jan. 29, 1995: 49ers 49, Chargers 26
Young came into the Super Bowl after winning his second MVP in three years and threw a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes. He also led both teams in rushing. A first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Young retired with the NFL’s highest career passer rating. Humphries never made a Pro Bowl, but he did go 50-32 as the Chargers’ starting quarterback.
46. John Elway vs. Chris Chandler, Super Bowl XXXIII
Jan. 31, 1999: Broncos 34, Falcons 19
In his final game, the 38-year-old Elway threw for 336 yards while winning MVP honors. Chandler, a two-time Pro Bowler, enjoyed a 17-year career that included 155 starts. Chandler’s role in Atlanta’s stunning upset win over the Vikings in the NFC title game has given him a permanent place in Falcons lore.
47. Jim Kelly vs. Jeff Hostetler, Super Bowl XXV
Jan. 27, 1991: Giants 20, Bills 19
A third-round pick in the 1985 draft, Hostetler languished on the bench during his first four-plus seasons with the Giants, but filled in for Phil Simms after he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 15. Undeterred, the Giants won their final two regular season games with Hostetler under center. Hostetler shook off a slow start in the Super Bowl to lead the Giants on three time-consuming scoring drives.
48. Patrick Mahomes vs. Jimmy Garoppolo, Super Bowl LIV
Feb. 2, 2020: Chiefs 31, 49ers 20
Garoppolo played about as well as expected in his Super Bowl debut. He actually out-played his counterpart for the first three quarters, as he helped the 49ers build a 20-10 lead. But when the Chiefs mounted their comeback, Garoppolo did not to rise to the moment. Trailing 24-20, he barely overthrew Emmanuel Sanders on what would have been the go-ahead score with 1:40 left. He took a sack on the next play, and the Chiefs put the game away two plays later.
49. Trent Dilfer vs. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
Jan. 28, 2001: Ravens 34, Giants 7
Widely considered to be the worst starting quarterback to win the Super Bowl, Dilfer had a successful career that included a ring, a Pro Bowl selection, a 5-1 playoff record and guiding two different teams to a conference title game. Dilfer is the only quarterback to be released the year after winning a Super Bowl. Collins, a two-time Pro Bowler whose career spanned three different decades, guided three different teams to the postseason. His four interceptions in Super Bowl XXXV, however, were costly for the Giants.
50. Terry Bradshaw vs. Vince Ferragamo, Super Bowl XIV
Jan. 20, 1980: Steelers 31, Rams 19
Ferragamo actually out-played Bradshaw for the first three quarters. A fourth-round pick in the 1977 draft, the 25-year-old Ferragamo had zero career starts under his belt before he was tasked with replacing injured starter Pat Haden 11 games into the ’79 season. The Rams went 4-1 under Ferragamo, then recorded two playoff upsets for the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Trailing 24-19 late in the game, Ferragamo was picked off by Pittsburgh’s Jack Lambert. The Steelers parlayed Ferragamo’s only big mistake of the game into the game-clinching score.
51. Joe Theismann vs. David Woodley, Super Bowl XVII
Jan. 30, 1983: Washington 27, Dolphins 17
Miami’s era between Bob Griese and Dan Marino included a two-quarterback system of veteran Don Strock and Woodley, an eighth-round pick in the 1980 draft. Woodley started each of Miami’s games during the strike-shortened 1982 season. But after completing a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Cefalo in the first quarter, Woodley completed just three more passes the rest of the game. He did not complete a single pass in the second half.
53. Peyton Manning vs. Rex Grossman, Super Bowl XLI
Feb. 4, 2007: Colts 29, Bears 17
Before Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, there was Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. Despite winning 10 of his 15 starts as a rookie, Orton was demoted to third string at the start of the 2006 season. Grossman, the team’s first-round pick in 2003, ascended to starter, where he went 13-3. But in the Super Bowl, Grossman committed three turnovers that included a pick-six that sealed Bears’ loss to the Colts. Grossman would start just eight more games for the Bears.
53. Jim McMahon vs. Tony Eason, Super Bowl XX
Jan. 26, 1986: Bears 46, Patriots 10
Eason — a member of the fabled 1983 quarterback draft class that also includes Marino, Elway and Kelly — replaced Steve Grogan as the Patriots’ starter in 1985, but was benched after ineffective play. He was thrust back into the starting lineup when Grogan broke his leg in Week 12. Eason threw five touchdowns against zero picks in the playoffs to help the Patriots reach their first Super Bowl. He was no match for Chicago’s famed “46” defense, failing to complete each of his six pass attempts, and he was replaced by Grogan in the second quarter. A Pro Bowler in 1985, McMahon threw for 256 yards in Chicago’s only Super Bowl victory. He led Chicago to a 6-0 start in 1986 before Charles Martin slammed him on his head, ending his season. McMahon returned to help lead the Bears to the playoffs in 1987 and in ’88.