20 Worst Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2012

20 Worst Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History

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    The Super Bowl is just days away and we have a great quarterback match-up to look forward to.

    But this list isn't about greatness, it's about quarterbacks who performed downright awful at the biggest sporting event in America.

    The position of quarterback is a very unique position in sports. 

    Too often do quarterbacks get too much credit for their team's victories and for the team's failures. 

    It may not be fair, but it's the nature of the beast of playing quarterback.

    It is one of the few positions in football, if not the only one, that is judged by performances' pressure-packed moments, especially the Super Bowl.

    Unfortunately, not every quarterback can live up to those expectations. 

    Here are 20 that set the standard for quarterbacking failures on the biggest stage in American sports.

    The list includes three Hall of Famers and some names you probably hadn't heard in quite some time. 

    Fans of the teams may want to turn away as we walk down the bad part of memory lane.

No. 20: Joe Theismann: Super Bowl XVIII

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    Marcus Allen's 75-yard touchdown run was the most famous play that came out of Super Bowl XVIII, but it was Joe Theismann's interception to Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Jack Squirek, which he returned for a touchdown, that completely turned the game in the Raiders favor.

    The Raiders used the momentum gained from the score to easily handle the Washington Redskins that day, 38-9.

    It was made even worse that the Redskins boasted the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history to that point and was held to only nine points.

    Theismann finished the day 16-of-35 for 243 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions and a spot No. 20 on this unenviable list.

No. 19: Joe Kapp: Super Bowl IV

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    Super Bowl IV was the last game of the old American Football League, and it was also quarterback's Joe Kapp's last game in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. 

    His Vikings' career did not end on a high note.

    Kapp and the Vikings were heavy favorites going into that game but were thoroughly dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL, 23-7.

    Kapp completed 16 of his 28 passes for 183 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Kapp did get the upperhand at something recently as he punched out former Canadian Football League rival Angelo Mosca at this past Grey Cup.

No. 18: Rex Grossman: Super Bowl XLI

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    No one really expected Rex Grossman to light up Super XLI, and he didn't surprise anyone when he threw for only 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, including one to Indianapolis Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden, who took it back for a score to seal the victory for his team.

    This probably one of the most lopsided quarterback matchups in Super Bowl history as well.

    On one side, you have future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and on the other you have...Grossman, who won't even be able to buy a ticket into Canton.

No. 17: John Elway: Super Bowl XXII

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    This is John Elway's first appearance on this list, and it will not be his last.

    Long before Elway ended his hall of fame career with two Super Bowl rings, he was known as a quarterback that couldn't win the big one.

    Super Bowl XXII was the second of his three failures in the big game.

    Elway went 14-of-38 passes for 257 yards, one touchdown and threw three interceptions that spurred the Washington Redskins to the highest-scoring quarter in Super Bowl history with 35 in the second quarter.

    The Denver Broncos were soundly defeated in a Super Bowl for the second year in a row, this time by a score of 42-10.

No. 16: John Elway: Super Bowl XXIV

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    Two years later, Elway managed to have an even worse outing than the one against the Redskins.

    It wasn't all his fault though.

    The Broncos defense were simply trampled by the San Francisco 49er and Redskin offense both times, but this was simply embarrassing. 

    The Broncos were handed the worse defeat in Super Bowl history, 55-10.

    Elway, whose legacy was in serious jeopardy at this point, completed a mere 10 passes for 108 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. 

    One of the low points of a stellar career for Elway.

No. 15: Ben Roethlisberger: Super Bowl XL

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    "Big Ben" is the only quarterback on this list that actually won the game he didn't play well in. 

    Although he was on the winning team, Roethlisberger played a horrid game where he managed to post the worst quarterback rating in Super Bowl history at 22.6.

    He didn't even throw the best pass in this game. That distinction went to Steelers receiver, and former college quarterback, Antwaan Randle-El.

    Roethlisberger's biggest contribution in this was a rushing touchdown in the early stages of the game that should have been overturned as he was clearly stopped short. 

    Nonetheless, Roethlisberger and the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in one of the harder-to-watch Super Bowls ever.

    If the Steelers didn't come away with the win, he would have been much higher on this list. 

    He did redeem himself in Super Bowl XLIII, but this is still one of the worst.

No. 14: David Woodley: Super Bowl XVII

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    When you see David Woodley's stat line from Super Bowl XVII, you will see exactly why the Miami Dolphins selected Dan Marino in the draft the following offseason.

    Woodley completed only four passes for only 97 yards.

    What keeps this out of the top 10 was that he only threw one interception, but after this game was played, you knew Woodley's days were numbered as the starter in Miami.

    The lack of any remnants of a passing attack contributed to the Dolphins falling to the Redskins, 27-17.

No. 13: Ron Jaworski: Super Bowl XV

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    Ron Jaworski has one of the more well-known personalities around the game of football today, whether it be the NFL or the Arena Football League.

    But that has not saved him from being on this list.

    "Jaws" could not analyze his way out of his lackluster performance in Super Bowl XV against the Oakland Raiders. 

    Jaworski completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions.

    Even worse, the Eagles did not fare much better as a team in its first Super Bowl appearance as they lost 27-10.

    Despite this subpar performance, Jaworski is still adored in the "City of Brotherly Love."

No. 12: Craig Morton: Super Bowl V

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    There was nothing special or pretty about Super Bowl V.

    There were a number of fumbles, players slipping and Johnny Unitas wore low-cut sneakers.

    One of the ugliest parts of that game was Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton's performance.

    Morton completed only 12 passes for 126 yards and threw three interceptions, as the Cowboys lost this tremendously bad game to the Baltimore Colts, 16-13 on a last-second field goal from kicker Jim O'Brien.

    Not even a dramatic game-winning field goal could save this game.

    You would think a game with Tom Landry on one sideline and Johnny Unitas on the other would have been an all-time great game, but instead, the fans got a turnover fest played on goofy AstroTurf.

    A good factoid from this game was that Don Shula did not coach the Colts in this game. It was Don McCafferty. 

    You all remember him right? OK, no one does. 

    Side note: This is not Morton's only appearance on this list. Somehow, he managed to play even worse.

No. 11: Jim Kelly: Super Bowl XXVI

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    Jim Kelly is no stranger to Super Bowl disappointments. 

    He, along with the rest of the Buffalo Bills of the early 1990s, suffered four consecutive Super Bowl defeats.

    Kelly was still deservedly enshrined in Canton for a great career but will never shake those four games.

    A lot of people may point at Super Bowl XXVII against the Cowboys as his worst performance, but Kelly was knocked out of that game and didn't have a chance to have a bad performance.

    But the year before against the Redskins, however, he had his chance and took full advantage of having a bad game.

    Since the Bills were down early, Kelly was forced to throw 58 passes, completing 28, for 275 yards, two touchdowns, but threw four interceptions. 

    Not a Hall-of-Fame-like day from the legend to say the least.

No. 10: Fran Tarkenton: Super Bowl IX

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    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton is the third and final Hall of Fame quarterback on the list.

    Tarkenton retired as the most prolific passer in NFL history, but he also retired as one of the worst performers on the big stage.

    Super Bowl IX against the Pittsburgh Steelers was the second of his three Super Bowl losses, but this performance was the worst of the three.

    Tarkenton completed only 11 passes, probably a good day against the Steel Curtain defense, for 102 yards and three interceptions.

    Tarkenton's performance contributed to a 16-6 for the Steelers—their first of four titles during the decade.

No. 9: Billy Kilmer: Super Bowl VII

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    Going up against an undefeated team in the Super Bowl worked out pretty good for Eli Manning.

    Not so much for Billy Kilmer of the Washington Redskins.

    Kilmer threw for a pedestrian 104 yards and three interceptions against the greatest team in NFL history—the 1972 Miami Dolphins. 

    Washington was the 17th victim of the Dolphins on their way to immortality, 14-7.

    Washington's only touchdown didn't even come from Kilmer and the offense. 

    It came from the infamous Garo Yepremian gaff on a field goal attempt that was returned 49 yards for the lone Washington highlight. 

No. 8: Chris Chandler: Super Bowl XXXIII

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    In another lopsided quarterback matchup, the great John Elway was going toe-to-toe with the ever so average Chris Chandler in Super Bowl XXXIII.

    While Elway rode off into the sunset and into the Hall of Fame after Denver's 34-19 defeat over the Atlanta Falcons, Chandler rode off into obscurity.

    But he didn't do before having a rather forgettable Super Bowl performance.

    Chandler threw for 219 yards and three interceptions while completing only 19 passes. 

    The "Dirty Bird" was washed up in Miami.

No. 7: Drew Bledsoe: Super Bowl XXXI

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    Drew Bledsoe, meet Reggie White. Again and again and again.

    White's pressure contributed to four interceptions from Bledsoe who was see as an elite quarterback at the time.

    Bledsoe threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but interceptions will get you very high on a list like this, and Bledsoe had plenty to go around.

    Bledsoe's picks spurred the Packers to a 35-21 win over Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots.

    I would say the Patriots recovered at the quarterback position if I say so myself.

No. 6: Neil O'Donnell: Super Bowl XXX

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    As the NFL was celebrating 30 years of the Super Bowl when the Steelers and Cowboys locked up in the big game, Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell set quarterbacking back another 30 years with his performance during the game.

    O'Donnell did complete 28 passes for 239 yards, but his three blatantly terrible interceptions is what put him so high on this list.

    His last two interceptions were thrown directly, and when I say directly, I mean directly, to Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown, essentially handing him the MVP honors and a huge contract from the Raiders the next season.

    I think those interceptions were two of the worst there have ever been on such a big stage mainly because they were thrown right to Brown. 

    It was borderline laughable, unless you're a Steelers fan.

No. 5: Earl Morrall: Super Bowl III

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    Now, we're getting to the top (or bottom depending on how you look at it) of this list.

    Although Earl Morrall was the quarterback who helped the Colts win Super Bowl V, he will always be remembered for being part of that Colts team that was upset by the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

    Even worse, Morrall had a terrible stat line during the game, which certainly contributed to the Colts losing 16-7.

    Morrall threw half as many interceptions (three) than completions (six), which is never something to strive for.

    Morrall only amassed 71 yards through the air.

    Morrall was front and center to the upset that changed the face of professional football to what we know it as today. 

    His performance contributed to the reason why there's even a list like this because the Super Bowl has become an unofficial American holiday at this point. 

No. 4: Kerry Collins: Super Bowl XXXV

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    To be fair, Kerry Collins would not have been the only quarterback to play terribly against the 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense.

    Nonetheless, Collins still had an awful game. 

    Collins completed 15 passes for only 112 yards and threw four interceptions.

    Collins and the Giants as a whole were dominated by the Ravens to the tune of a 34-7 win.

No. 3: Craig Morton: Super Bowl XII

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    Craig Morton not only makes his second appearance on this list, but he makes it with his second team in the Denver Broncos.

    John Elway wasn't the first Broncos quarterback to have horrid Super Bowl performances. That distinction goes to Morton as he had a putrid day against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII.

    Morton threw as many interceptions as completions (four), which is never a good stat.

    Those four completions amassed for a grand total of 39 yards and zero touchdowns as the Broncos were smoked by Dallas 27-10.

No. 2: Tony Eason: Super Bowl XX

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    Tony Eason must have walked across a black cat before Super Bowl XX because he simply had no luck against the Bears.

    No quarterbacks did for that matter, so Eason must have walked six black cats that day.

    It's funny I said six black cats because that's how many passes he attempted during the game before being knocked out of it. 

    How many did he complete? None.

    Yup, zero passes thus being the first starting quarterback in Super Bowl history to not complete a pass.

No. 1: Rich Gannon: Super Bowl XXXVII

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    Yes, I know Eason didn't complete a single pass, and Gannon completed 24 more than he did, but Gannon made some unwanted history of his own.

    Gannon threw five interceptions—the most in a single Super Bowl—three of which were returned for touchdowns.

    That's just inexcusable.

    What makes it even worse was that Gannon was the reigning NFL MVP.

    There's no excuse for the league's most valuable player to throw five interceptions in the biggest game of the year. 

    The Raiders were trounced 48-21, but Gannon's five interceptions gave the Buccaneers 21 of those 48 points. 

    Without those, you're talking about a completely different ball game.