Tom Brady Vs. Joe Montana: Who's the Greatest Clutch QB of Their Generation?

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2011

Tom Brady Vs. Joe Montana: Who's the Greatest Clutch QB of Their Generation?

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    When one thinks of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation, names like Elway, Aikman and Manning immediately come to mind.

    But when you break it down, Joe Montana and Tom Brady have not only won Super Bowls like all those guys have, but they have had some of their biggest games on the biggest stages. They truly are the greatest clutch quarterbacks of this generation.

    Joe Montana has four Super Bowl rings and three Super Bowl MVP awards. He will always be remembered for his clutch play in the biggest game, including one of the most memorable plays in NFL history, which is known today as "the catch."

    Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVP awards and he is still playing the game at the highest level. He has the potential to match Montana in both of those numbers when this year's postseason is all said and done. He will always be remembered for leading clutch drives in those Super Bowl victories.

    Lets break down each of these Hall of Fame quarterbacks and take a look at which one of them is the greatest clutch quarterback of this generation.

Brady: Changing Cast of Characters

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    From Terry Glenn, to Troy Brown, to Deion Branch, to David Patten.

    Tom Brady won three Super Bowls (2002, 2004 and 2005). One of the most impressive things about those Super Bowl victories is that he did it with a constantly changing cast of characters.

    But for Brady, it never has mattered who he is throwing the ball to. Brady was looked upon to lead game-winning drives in all three of those Super Bowls with multiple receivers, running backs and tight ends all making big plays in the biggest games.

    Only the greatest quarterbacks can make their receivers great. And that is exactly what Brady did with whoever came in and was assigned to catch the ball from him.

Montana: 1989 Super Bowl

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    Brady has led some of the most memorable drives in Super Bowl history, but they resulted with a game-winning field goal kick.

    Joe Montana did it a little differently back in the 1989 Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. Down three points with just over three minutes left, Montana led the 49ers 92 yards, throwing for the Super Bowl winning touchdown with 34 seconds left to give San Francisco a 20-16 victory over the Bengals.

    He was known throughout football as the "Comeback Kid". More to come on that soon.

Brady: Best Career Playoff Record for a Quarterback In This Generation

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    Tom Brady entered this year's NFL postseason with a 14-4 (.788) career playoff record, which is the best of any quarterback in this generation. It is second all-time in NFL history behind Bart Starr, who was 9-1 (.900).

    Brady currently sports the best winning percentage (.765) of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl Era with at least 100 starts.

    People say that the best quarterbacks are the ones who can get it done when the pressure is on. There are the numbers to back Brady's case right there.

Montana: Never Lost In a Super Bowl

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    Joe Montana was a perfect 4-for-4 in Super Bowl appearances in his career. He also became the only player who won the Super Bowl MVP award three times.

    In his four Super Bowl victories, Montana completed 83-of-122 passes for 1,142 yards with 11 touchdowns. He seemed to play his best every time he was on the biggest stage with the Super Bowl on the line.

    Tom Brady has lost a Super Bowl, one that most expected him and the Patriots to win. Joe Montana never lost a Super Bowl and was brilliant in all four appearances.

Brady: Game Winning Drives

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    Montana led two of them in Super Bowls, but Brady led a game-winning drive to break a tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter of each of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories.

    Brady stands alone in that category as being the only quarterback in NFL history to lead three such game-winning drives in the Super Bowl.

    All-in-all, he has orchestrated 29 game-winning drives to break a tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter or overtime. Six of his game-winning efforts have come in the postseason, where he has played in 18 games.

Montana: Wins Big In Big Games

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    So Tom Brady has led a game-winning drive in all three of the Patriots' Super Bowl victories. The Patriots won those three games by a combined nine points.

    Well, one could say that Joe Montana doesn't hold that record because he never let teams get that close in the Big Game.

    In Joe Montana's four Super Bowl appearances, the 49ers beat their opponents by a combined 75 points. With Montana calling the shots, the 49ers beat the Dolphins and Broncos by a combined score of 93-26 in two Super Bowl victories. Montana's other two Super Bowl's were close, but either way, he got it done when it mattered most and sometimes in truly dominant fashion.

Brady: He Did It With Less

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    Simply said, Tom Brady has had less talent to work with then Joe Montana.

    Joe Montana had the luxury of throwing to the likes of Jerry Rice, who is, without any doubt, the best to ever play his position. I don't see that argument being challenged anytime soon. And yes, I am aware that Rice was not on the 49ers for Montana's first two Super Bowls, but the likes of Dwight Clark and Wendell Tyler were on those teams.

    Tom Brady has won Super Bowl titles with an average supporting cast, but he has made them into good receivers in that system. Guys like Deion Branch and David Patten never went on to do anything significant once they left New England. But look at a guy like Branch, who leaves and then comes back and has a great season this year.

    Tom Brady makes due with what he has and he has the ability to make average receivers into good receivers.

Montana: No Interceptions

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    This very well could be one of the most impressive statistics in all of sports.

    In his four Super Bowl victories, Joe Montana completed 83-of-122 passes and never once threw an interception.

    Perhaps one of the plays that came closest to being intercepted was when the scrambling Montana, with three Cowboys closing in for the kill, lofted the ball in the end zone over a Dallas defender's stretched arms and into the hands of Dwight Clark. The six-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds left gave the 49ers a 28-27 victory over Dallas for the 1981 NFC Championship. It is still known today as one of the most clutch plays in NFL playoff history.

Brady: All The Records and Still Time For More

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    Along with his three Super Bowl game-winning drives, Brady also has a number of records that show how clutch he has been throughout his career.

    Most importantly, he is the only quarterback in NFL history to start and win three Super Bowls before his 28th birthday. Tom Brady still has a lot of football ahead of him and with the way he is playing this season, he has a very good opportunity at shattering a lot more records before he hangs up the laces.

    Brady is playing the best football of his career right now and there are no signs that he is going to slow down anytime soon.

Montana: More Hardware To Show As of Now

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    As of now, Joe Montana does top Tom Brady with slightly more impressive hardware. He has four Super Bowl championships, three of which he earned the game's MVP in.

    He is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time NFL MVP. The fact that he was victorious in every Super Bowl that he played in is something that Brady will never be able to match.

    Montana played the game until he was 38 and he always played at the highest level.


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    Right now, with all the stats to back it up, it is only fair to say that Joe Montana is the greatest clutch QB of this generation.

    He has more Super Bowl rings and Super Bowl MVPs then Brady does. But that is not to say that Brady will not catch him. In fact, he has a good shot to do so this year, as the Patriots are a Super Bowl favorite heading into the second week of the postseason.

    These guys are two of the best to ever play the game. With Montana cementing his legacy and Brady still adding to his, this is a debate that will continue to grow in years to come.