NFL History: Top 50 QB-WR Tandems of All-Time

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIDecember 7, 2011

NFL History: Top 50 QB-WR Tandems of All-Time

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    Over the years, the NFL has evolved into a passing league—meaning that quarterbacks need to be at the top of their game in order to win while having a productive wide receiver to throw to.

    In the NFL's illustrious history, there has been a tremendous amount of quarterback-to-wide receiver connections that have been memorable. Some that come to mind is Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, Steve Young to Jerry Rice and Tom Brady to Randy Moss.

    Along with those three stated, who else belongs on this list?

    Here are the top 50 QB-WR tandems in NFL history. 

50. Steve Grogan to Stanley Morgan

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    Steve Grogan and Stanley Morgan were the keys to New England's passing attack from 1977 until 1989.

    The duo combined for over 530 receptions, 10,300 receiving yards while scoring nearly 70 touchdowns. 

    Grogan was the greatest quarterback, but Morgan made him relevant with his incredible talent at wide receiver. 

49. Drew Bledsoe to Terry Glenn

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    Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn were so good as New England Patriots from 1996-2001 that they were brought back together from 2003-2006 with the Dallas Cowboys. 

    As Patriots, the two helped lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance in 1996 as they combined for 90 receptions while accumulating 1,132 receiving yards and six touchdowns in just Glenn's rookie season. 

    Bledsoe to Glenn is one of the most underrated tandems in NFL history. 

48. Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson

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    Despite never making the playoffs with the Houston Texans, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are one of the most lethal combinations in the NFL today. 

    Schaub has found Johnson for nearly 400 receptions and are still continuing to put up monster numbers in the NFL today. 

47. Carson Palmer to Chad Ochocinco

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    Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco had their fair share of success from 2004-2010. 

    Despite playing on a mediocre team, the Cincinnati Bengals, the tandem was still able to produce nearly 50 touchdowns together while accumulating just short of 8,000 receiving yards. 

46. John Elway to Rod Smith

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    John Elway and Rod Smith may have only played in 73 games together but they were still able to put on monster numbers.

    Elway and Smith hooked up 257 times from 1995 to 1999 as the tandem scored 25 touchdowns and accumulated 3,811 receiving yards. 

45. Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings

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    This QB-WR tandem have already combined for a Super Bowl victory with the Green Bay Packers.

    From 2008 until 2010, the tandem connected for over 200 receptions, 3,600 plus yards as well as 25 touchdowns together. 

    The scary thing is, that's just in three seasons and they are still playing at an elite level and only getting better and better. 

44. Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald

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    This tandem was short-lived at the tail end of Kurt Warner's career, but he made the most of it.

    Warner and Larry Fitzgerald took the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 as they combined for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns while connecting 96 times.

    From 2005 until 2009, the duo recorded 465 receptions for nearly 6,300 receiving yards and 51 touchdowns. 

43. Bart Starr to Max McGee

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    From 1957 to 1967, Bart Starr and Max McGee were two of the NFL's finest. 

    The duo help lead the Green Bay Packers to three NFL Championships as well as the very first Super Bowl in 1966, as well in 1967. 

42. Jim Zorn to Steve Largent

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    Jim Zorn and Steve Largent were the faces of the expansion Seattle Seahawks from 1976 until 1984. Hell, they even sang together in a commercial—see the video posted. 

    In that time period, the duo were literally the only star power on the Seahawks, as they connected for 72 touchdown receptions as Largent turned Zorn into a top-tier passer. 

41. Brett Favre to Donald Driver

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    Brett Favre and Donald Driver were literally meant to be—they were two of the NFL's finest from 1999 until 2007. 

    In their time spent together, they scored an incredible 38 touchdowns while hooking up nearly 500 times and accumulating 6,900-plus yards. 

40. Steve McNair to Derrick Mason

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    Steve McNair and Derrick Mason not only spent time together with the Tennessee Titans from 1997 to 2004 as they made one Super Bowl appearance, but they were also reunited as Baltimore Ravens from 2006 until 2007.

    This tandem connected for 6,000-plus receiving yards as their stellar play together earned McNair the nickname of "Air McNair."

39. Joe Montana to Dwight Clark

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    The Catch—that's all that I need to say. 

38. Dan Marino to Mark Duper

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    Dan Marino and Mark Duper's success together earned Duper the nickname of Mark "Super" Duper. 

    The combination of Marino and Duper hooked up for an impressive 2,695 receiving yards.

37. Jeff Garcia to Terrell Owens

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    Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens may not have gotten along at the end of their time together, but they were extremely productive.

    From 1999 until 2003, the duo hooked up for nearly 430 receptions as well as 6,000-plus receiving yards and 55 total touchdowns. 

36. Sammy Baugh to Hugh Taylor

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    This is an oldie, but if you're an NFL historian then you should know these two names: Sammy Baugh and Hugh Taylor.

    Baugh and Taylor connected for 42 touchdowns in six seasons while they were members of the Washington Redskins from 1947 until 1952. 

35. George Blanda to Charley Hennigan

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    George Blanda and Charley Hennigan were so productive together that they won the very first two AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961. 

    This tandem scored 51 touchdowns together for the Houston Oils and accumulated 400-plus receptions. 

34. Rich Gannon to Tim Brown

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    Tim Brown is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, but most of his success came with Rich Gannon from 1999 until 2003.

    In that time period, the duo led the Oakland Raiders to one Super Bowl appearance, as well as scoring 30 touchdowns and hooking up nearly 400 times for well over 5,000 receiving yards. 

33. Warren Moon to Cris Carter

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    This marriage was short-lived, but it was one of the NFL's greatest.

    Warren Moon and Cris Carter spent 1994-1996 together as they connected nearly 350 times for 3,790 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings. 

32. Otto Graham to Mac Speedie

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    This is yet another oldie, but it is one of the greatest tandems in NFL history: Otto Graham and Mac Speedie. 

    From 1946 until 1952, an era where passing wasn't the greatest, Graham and Speedie were able to put up some serious times as they recorded nearly 350 receptions and 5,600 receiving yards together.

31. Joe Theismann and Art Monk

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    From 1980 until 1985, Joe Theismann and Art Monk were able to compete at an elite level as one of the greatest QB-WR tandems in NFL history.

    The tandem scored 24 touchdowns together and won one Super Bowl together in 1982. 

30. Babe Parilli to Gino Cappelletti

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    I can almost guarantee you that no one knows who exactly Babe Parilli was and a large chunk of people don't know who the phenomenal Gino Cappelletti was.

    Back in the 1960s, this tandem lit up the sky as members of the Boston Patriots. 

    From 1961 to 1967, this combination made Boston a winning team and went to the AFL Championship in 1963. In that time period, they connected 277 times for 40 scores. 

29. Kurt Warner to Torry Holt

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    Kurt Warner and Torry Holt helped lead the St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowl appearances, including a victory over the Tennessee Titans in 1999.

    This duo was the most lethal attack in what was known "the greatest show on turf."

    From 1999 to 2003, Warner and Holt connected on 215 receptions for a whopping 3,758 yards. 

28. Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne

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    This tandem has been a great success ever since 2001 and they're still going.

    Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne have been one of the most deadly passing attacks in the NFL during this time period as they have combined for 69 touchdowns and 10,748 receiving yards while connecting on 787 receptions. 

    When these two are clicking, no one can stop them. 

27. Bob Griese to Paul Warfield

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    Bob Griese and Paul Warfield led the Miami Dolphins' passing attack from 1970 to 1974 and most notably helped complete a perfect 17-0 season in 1972—the only team to do so. 

    During this time period, this tandem averaged seven touchdowns per season while connecting on 156 receptions for 3,355 yards. 

26. Len Dawson to Otis Taylor

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    Here's another oldie for you: Len Dawson and Otis Taylor.

    Dawson and Taylor were the faces of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1965 to 1975 as they appeared in two Super Bowls together, including a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. 

    In their 11 seasons together, the duo hooked up 410 times for nearly 7,400 receiving yards—you can't get much better than that during that time period. 

25. Dan Fouts to Charlie Joiner

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    Dan Fouts and Charlie Joiner were nothing short of incredible together in the "Air Coryell" passing attack. 

    This tandem played from 1976 until 1986 together as they combined for around 9,200 receiving yards and 47 touchdowns on 583 receptions. 

24. John Hadl to Lance Alworth

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    From 1962 until 1970, John Hadl and Lance Alworth were the NFL's finest as they racked up the passing yards as members of the San Diego Chargers.

    In that time period, this duo won the AFL Championship in 1963 over the Boston Patriots while also making the AFL playoffs a total of five times.

    When all was said and done, Hadl and Alworth connected on 459 passes for nearly 9,600 receiving yards and a remarkable 81 touchdowns. 

23. Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce

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    From 1998 until 2003, Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce were the faces of the NFL's "greatest show on turf."

    During that span, this lethal combination combined for nearly 6,300 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns while recording 408 receptions. 

    Warner and Bruce played in two Super Bowls together, winning one back in 1999 against the Tennessee Titans. 

22. Kenny Stabler to Cliff Branch

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    From 1972 to 1979, Kenny Stabler and Cliff Branch were the Oakland Raiders' top offensive weapons as they won the Super Bowl in 1976. 

    Stabler and Branch hooked up for 320 receptions while accumulating well over 5,500 receiving yards and scoring 50 touchdowns. 

21. Don Meredith to Bob Hayes

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    This tandem's time together was short-lived but it was extremely productive. 

    Don Meredith and Bob Hayes put fear in opposing defenses' eyes as they accumulated nearly 4,200 receiving yards while scoring a remarkable 45 touchdowns—a whopping 11 touchdowns per-season average. 

20. Daryle Lamonica to Fred Biletnikoff

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    Daryle Lamonica and Fred Biletnikoff were nothing short of winners from 1967-1974 as they did not have a losing season together while playing for the Oakland Raiders.

    This QB-WR tandem appeared in just one Super Bowl together as they fell just short against the Green Bay Packers. 

    In that time span, they connected on 51 receptions for 57 touchdowns—an impressive average of seven per season. 

19. Brett Favre to Sterling Sharpe

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    Sterling Sharpe's career came to an abrupt end in 1994, but his time with Brett Favre was remarkable.

    From 1992 to 1994, Sharpe and Favre connected on an incredible 314 receptions for 3,854 yards and 42 touchdowns. An average season for this tandem would look like this: 105 receptions for 1,285 yards and 14 touchdowns—that is just insane. 

18. Tom Brady to Deion Branch

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    Tom Brady and Deion Branch had spent 2002 until 2005 together and were reunited in 2010 and have been together ever since. 

    In their first stint together, Brady and Branch played in two Super Bowls and won both, as Brady was named Super Bowl MVP once and Branch was named Super Bowl MVP in the other one. 

    From '02-'05, Brady and Branch scored 14 touchdowns together while connecting on 213 receptions for 2,744 yards. 

    Overall, this QB-WR tandem have recorded 309 receptions for 23 touchdowns. 

17. Sonny Jurgensen to Charley Taylor

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    Sonny Jurgensen and Charley Taylor may be unknown to some of you, but they were lethal as members of the Washington Redskins.

    From 1964-1974, this QB-WR tandem connected on 582 receptions for an incredible 8,208 yards and 73 touchdowns. An average season for this duo would shape as 53 receptions, 746 yards and seven touchdowns—that's very impressive considering the time period. 

16. Norm Van Brocklin to Elroy Hirsch

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    This one goes way back—and I mean way back—to a time period when passing was not the greatest. However, this tandem made the passing game work for the Los Angeles Rams. 

    During their time together with the Rams, this tandem hooked up for 343 receptions, 6,299 receiving yards and 53 touchdowns—that does not seem like a lot, but it was remarkable for the time period. 

15. Tom Brady to Wes Welker

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    This QB-WR tandem is still going and it's arguably the NFL's best today. 

    Wes Welker came to the New England Patriots in 2007 as an unknown slot wide receiver but Tom Brady turned him into one of the NFL's finest. In that '07 season, Welker caught an incredible 112 receptions for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    An average season for this lethal combination would look a lot like this: 105 receptions, 1,158 receiving yards and six touchdowns. 

14. Cecil Isbell to Don Hutson

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    You likely have no idea how incredible this duo was, as they played together from 1938 until 1942—yeah, all the way back to World War II. 

    Cecil Isbell and Don Hutson played in an era when running the ball was the only option, but they made the passing attack work.

    Isbell and Hutson connected on 243 receptions while accumulating 4,007 yards and 49 touchdowns. That's an average of 10 touchdowns per season—simply amazing for the time period. 

13. Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson

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    From 1973 until 1979, Roger Staubach's favorite wide receiver was Drew Pearson and they were nothing short of amazing.

    In that time period while playing for the Dallas Cowboys, this duo averaged 48 receptions per season while accumulating 31 touchdowns and 5,713 receiving yards. 

12. Joe Namath to Don Maynard

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    Joe Namath wasn't the greatest quarterback, but when he connected with Don Maynard, he was one of the most productive in NFL history. 

    From 1965-1972, while playing for the New York Jets, Namath and Maynard connected on 372 receptions for 7,170 yards and 49 touchdowns while winning a Super Bowl together. 

11. Jim Kelly to Andre Reed

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    From 1986-1996, Jim Kelly and Andre Reed led the Buffalo Bills' offensive attack as they went to three consecutive Super Bowls and made the playoffs eight times. 

    This deadly combination accumulated 718 receptions together, as well as 10,247 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns. 

10. Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann

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    Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann may be the greatest QB-WR in Super Bowl history—these two players produced multiple big plays in their four Super Bowl victories together.

    From 1974 until 1982, the duo connected for nearly 330 receptions while accumulating over 5,400 yards and scoring 51 touchdowns. 

9. Johnny Unitas to Raymond Berry

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    Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry were without a doubt productive, but they were winners. In fact, during their time with the Baltimore Colts, the team did not have a losing season.

    During their time together, Unitas and Berry connected 618 times for well over 9,000 yards and 68 touchdowns. 

8. Dan Fouts to Kellen Winslow

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    I know, I know—Kellen Winslow was a tight end but he put up remarkable numbers, much like a wide receiver. 

    San Diego Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts connected with Winslow for 541 receptions, 6,741 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns.

    From 1979 until 1987, Fouts was named to six Pro Bowls while Winslow was named to five. 

7. Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin

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    In five seasons together, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin connected 449 times for 7,093 yards and 38 touchdowns.

    In that time period from 1991 to 1995, both of them made the Pro Bowl every single season.

    While being recognized with Pro Bowl selections, the duo also won three Super Bowls together. 

6. Dan Marino to Mark Clayton

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    Dan Marino's favorite receiver during his reign as the NFL's top quarterback was Mark Clayton.

    The duo connected for 79 touchdowns from 1983 until 1992. Clayton also caught 538 of Marino's passes for an astronomical 8,468 total yards. 

    Clayton was the perfect receiver for Marino's rocket arm. 

5. Daunte Culpepper to Randy Moss

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    From 2000-2004, Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss were as good as it gets.

    There's no question that Moss is a future Hall of Famer while Culpepper appeared to be a future Hall of Famer at the time. The duo combined for 425 receptions for 6,414 yards and an incredible 62 touchdowns.

    That's a stellar average of 85 receptions per season for 1,283 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

4. Steve Young to Jerry Rice

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    Jerry Rice is arguably the greatest player in NFL history, while Steve Young is one of the all-time great quarterbacks. There's no dispute that they're one of the greatest tandems in NFL History

    Rice and Young hooked up for 85 touchdowns from 1991-1999. In 1995, the year after the 49ers last Super Bowl win, Rice set the NFL single-season receiving record with 1,848 yards. 

    Young to Rice is something that all NFL defenses feared. 

3. Tom Brady to Randy Moss

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    2007 alone makes Tom Brady and Randy Moss one of the greatest QB-WR tandems in NFL history.

    In '07, the duo connected for 23 touchdowns—an NFL single-season record—as well as 1,493 yards and 98 receptions on their way to a remarkable perfect 16-0 regular season.

    In just two full seasons and four games together, Brady and Moss connected 190 times for 39 touchdowns while accumulating 2,896 yards. 

2. Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison

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    Most of Peyton Manning's success should be credited to wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

    The duo combined for an NFL record 953 receptions as well as scoring a total of 114 touchdowns.

    Manning and Harrison also were able to lead the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears back in 2006. 

1. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice

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    You cannot get better than Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Period.

    Montana and Rice are the greatest quarterback-to-wide receiver tandem to ever play the game of football.

    This duo won three Super Bowls together for the San Francisco 49ers as the two combined for four touchdowns, 18 receptions while accumulating 363 yards in these three Super Bowl victories. 

    There is no doubt in my mind that Montana is the greatest quarterback in NFL history, while Rice is arguably the NFL's greatest player—so why shouldn't they be cemented as No. 1 on this list?