With the big game only a few days away, I took the time to look back on some of the great quarterback matchups of all-time, along with some of the not-so-great matchups.
I'll start with the best. I tried to narrow it down to the five best, although I likely left a few good ones out.
5. Joe Montana vs. Ken Anderson, Super Bowl XVI- The young Montana was fresh off the "catch" and a rousing victory over the favored Cowboys in the Championship game. Joe was his usual "cool" self in leading the 49ers to a commanding 20-0 halftime lead. Anderson led a furious second half rally that fell just short. Ken actually threw for more yards (300-157) and more touchdowns (2-1), but had a costly interception late that sealed the game for San Francisco.
4. Phil Simms vs. John Elway, Super Bowl XXI- His first appearance in the big game was actually one of Elway's better Super Bowl performances, as he threw for 304 yards and a touchdown. Ultimately, the Broncos couldn't overcome Simms' near perfect 22 out of 25 and three touchdowns.
3. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Kurt Warner, Super Bowl XLIII- These two future Hall of Famers put on quite a show. Warner rallied the Cardinals late in the fourth quarter with a couple of touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald to take the lead 23-20. On came "Big Ben" to lead a 78 yard game winning drive, hitting Santonio Holmes with a perfect pass in the corner of the endzone with 35 seconds left.
2. Tom Brady vs. Jake Delhomme, Super Bowl XXXVIII- These two matched each other touchdown for touchdown in a wild game that wasn't decided until the closing seconds by the best clutch kicker in NFL history. Both quarterbacks finished with 100 plus quarterback ratings for the game.
1. Terry Bradshaw vs. Roger Staubach, Super Bowl XIII- Simply the best performance by two quarterbacks in the big game ever. Staubach's three touchdown passes nearly rallied the Cowboys to the win. "Captain Comeback's" performance was topped by Bradshaw's four touchdown passes and 119.2 quarterback rating, earning him MVP honors.
And now, the worst matchups:
5. Joe Theismann vs. David Woodley, Super Bowl XVII- Woodley completed only four passes in the game and looked incapable of moving the Dolphins offense. Theismann threw two interceptions and finished with a paltry 143 yards passing. His best play of the game was breaking up an interception by Dophins DE Kim Bokamper that might have shifted the game in Miami's favor.
4. Brad Johnson vs. Rich Gannon, Super Bowl XXXVII- Gannon threw a whopping five interceptions as the Bucs seemed to know every move he made before he made it. Johnson didn't do anything spectacular in the game either, as he finished with a mediocre 79.9 quarterback rating and let his awesome defense win the game for Tampa Bay by not making any mistakes.
3. Trent Dilfer vs. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV- Collins threw for only 112 yards and four interceptions, finishing with a miserable 7.1 quarterback rating. Dilfer completed only 12 passes, but it was enough to win as Baltimore's defense was dominant.
2. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Matt Hasselbeck, Super Bowl XL- Hasselbeck completed only a little over half his passes and too often could not convert on third down. As a team, Seattle finished five out of 17 on third down. Roethlisberger, on the other hand, only threw for 123 yards and two interceptions. "Big Ben" finished with a 22.6 quarterback rating, the lowest for a winning quarterback in Super Bowl history.
1. Johnny Unitas & Earl Morrall vs. Craig Morton, Super Bowl V- These three quarterbacks combined for six interceptions in what can only be termed as a pitiful display of quarterbacking. The most crippling interception came in the closing moments off the arm of Morton, his third of the game and set up the game winning field goal. Craig Morton could possibly be the worst Super Bowl quarterback in history if you take into account his dismal performance against Dallas in Super Bowl XII.
So, there you have it. Let's hope Sunday's game adds to the list of great matchups.