There have been many outstanding quarterback performances in Super Bowl history, and it can be difficult to determine the "best" one. However, we look back at some of the most notable performances by quarterbacks in Super Bowl history:
- Super Bowl XXI (1987) - New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms went 22 of 25 for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns in their win over John Elway and the Denver Broncos. With this performance, Phil Simms still ranks atop Super Bowl records for passing efficiency at 88% (minimum 20 attempts), most consecutive completions (10), and highest passer rating at 150.9 (“Super Bowl XXI,” 2023).
- Super Bowl XXIV (1990) - San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana completed 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards with a Super Bowl-record five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Montana’s 147.6 (out of 158.3) passer rating was second only to Phil Simms three years prior (“Super Bowl XXIV,” 2023).
- Super Bowl XXXII (1998) - Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway completed 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for another touchdown. This game cemented Elway in football history, as the 37-year-old ran in what was dubbed the “helicopter run,” where the announcers said with enthusiasm, “he wanted that first down!” and called it “the greatest 8 yard run in Super Bowl history!” (NFL, 2015).
- Super Bowl XXXIV (2000) - St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner completed 24 of 45 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns. While Warner had 21 incompletions; he had a passer rating of 99.7, made clutch throws when it mattered, and he was awarded the Super Bowl MVP for his efforts (“Super Bowl XXXIV,” 2023).
- Super Bowl LI (2017) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 43 of 62 passes and erased a 28-3 deficit with his Super Bowl-record 466 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for another touchdown.
- Super Bowl XLII (2008) - New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with just 35 seconds left in the game, leading the Giants to a 17-14 upset over the New England Patriots. While these stats aren’t showstopping, they came in clutch timing against the undefeated Patriots and produced one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history when David Tyree caught Eli Manning’s pass on top of his helmet while falling backwards to the ground.
- Super Bowl XLIII (2009) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 30 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown, including a perfectly thrown game-winning touchdown to Santonio Holmes with just 35 seconds left in the game, leading the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
These are just a few examples of the many outstanding quarterback performances in Super Bowl history. While some of these aren’t the greatest performances statistically; clutch plays and impact on the outcome of the game were taken into consideration. Grit, determination, and a little bit of luck make for some of the most electric performances by quarterbacks on the biggest stage in football. Who knows? – Another quarterback legend may be added to Super Bowl lore on Sunday.
Note: this article used AI software, ChatGPT, to generate the base for this article, and was expanded on with other specific stats and dialogue.
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NFL. (2015). Top 50 Sound FX | #13: John Elway's Helicopter Run | NFL. YouTube. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrYsO67ZZCU.
OpenAI. (2023, February 2). CHATGPT: Optimizing language models for dialogue. OpenAI. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/
Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, February 1). Super Bowl XXI. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XXI
Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, February 2). Super Bowl XXIV. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XXIV
Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, February 8). Super Bowl XXXIV. Wikipedia. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XXXIV
About the Author
Marshal W. Smith graduated from Samford University in December of 2021 and is currently pursuing his M.B.A. with a concentration in Sport Business here at Samford. He would like to stay at Samford and teach Sports Business, Marketing or Analytics, or work for a major sports franchise in marketing or data analytics. Here is a link to his LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/marshalwsmith.