50 Greatest QB-WR Duos in NFL History

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2011

50 Greatest QB-WR Duos in NFL History

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    Montana to Rice, Aikman to Irvin, Manning to Harrison—NFL history is full of amazing quarterback-wide receiver duos.

    I had a lot of fun doing research for this article. There were so many options at my disposal, so there will be some tandems left out. Accordingly, some of you may not agree with my overall rankings.

    That said, you have to look at a couple different variables when putting together a list like this. First, you look at the era each tandem played in. Just because a duo performed great in the 1950s doesn't mean that they shouldn't be on the list.

    Additionally, there are a couple of tandems that are currently playing who deserve mention.

    Also, consider the team's overall success. It isn't just a stat game when drawing a conclusion about the best tandems in NFL history—winning championships still means something.

    So, without further ado, I present to you my list of the 50 best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in NFL history.  

50. Y.A. Tittle and Billy Wilson

1 of 50

    Where: San Francisco 49ers

    When: 1951-1960

    Y.A. Tittle and Billy Wilson were stars for the San Francisco 49ers long before this franchise gained prominent following in the early 1980s. This was a time where the 49ers did finish above .500 for eight of the 10 seasons these two were together. 

    Although Wilson was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, he did make the Pro Bowl six times and caught more than 400 passes for nearly 6,000 yards, the large majority of them from Tittle. 

    Tittle made his name known when he left San Francisco for the New York Giants. He led the latter to three consecutive championships, losing all three. 

49. Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn

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    Where: New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys 

    When: 1996-2001, 2003-2006

    Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn were teammates for the majority of their careers with two separate teams, both winning clubs. 

    In 1996 with the New England Patriots, Glenn's rookie season, they combined for 90 receptions and more than 1,100 yards, leading the Patriots to an AFC Championship. 

    Overall, the two combined for 522 receptions and were one of the most prolific quarterback and wide receiver tandems in modern NFL history. 

48. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson

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    Where: Houston Texans

    When: 2007-Current 

    Although the Houston Texans have yet to make the playoffs with these two stars, this run appears to becoming to an end in 2011. Some may say I have them on this list because of pure potential alone, but that is not the case. 

    Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have combined for 376 receptions, 5,399 yards and 35 touchdowns over the course of the last four seasons. This makes them one of the most prolific tandems in recent NFL history. 

    If you could fast forward 10 years, I would believe these two end up in the top 20. 

47. Ron Jawarski and Harold Carmichael

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    Where: Philadelphia Eagles

    When: 1977-1983

    In a four-year stretch from 1978-1981, the Philadelphia Eagles made the playoffs each season, losing in the 1980 Super Bowl to the Oakland Raiders. 

    Jaws and Carmichael were the primary reason this otherwise-pedestrian team made it that far during those years. They combined for 216 receptions and 34 touchdowns during those four seasons. Overall, the two combined for nearly 50 touchdowns in seven seasons. 

    Neither has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

46. Steve Grogan and Stanley Morgan

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    Where: New England Patriots 

    When: 1977-1989

    Steve Grogan wasn't the best quarterback to play in the NFL. In fact, he ended a career that spanned three different decades with more interceptions than touchdowns. However, his connection with Stanley Morgan has to be considered one of the best in NFL history.

    In 14 seasons together, Morgan caught 543 passes for more than 10,000 yards and 67 touchdowns—the large majority of those from Grogan. 

    The Patriots only made the playoffs four times during these players' tenures with them, but they were a great duo. 

45. Tom Flores and Art Powell

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    Where: 1963-1966

    When: Oakland Raiders

    These two didn't play with one another a long time and the statistics aren't awe-inspiring. Still, I had to include Flores and Powell on this list.

    Powell made the Pro Bowl all four seasons this duo was together, and Flores was 23-11-3 as the Raiders' starting quarterback from 1963-1966. Despite the fact that Oakland didn't make the playoffs once in those years, Flores and Powell were among the league's best duos.

    The two connected for 51 touchdown passes, while Powell led the league in both receiving yards (1,304) and touchdowns (16) in 1963.

44. Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco

7 of 50

    Where: Cincinnati Bengals 

    When: 2004-2010

    The years these two former stars had with the Cincinnati Bengals may fly under the radar because they weren't playing for a great team. However, sometimes you have to look past that and take into account the crazy numbers that were put up.

    In seven seasons together in Cincinnati, from 2004-2010, Chad Ochocinco destroyed the Bengals' record books. During that span he had more than 560 receptions for just shy of 8,000 yards—the large majority coming from Carson Palmer. 

    While high expectations in Cincinnati never materialized, these two were great together. 

43. John Elway and Rod Smith

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    Where: Denver Broncos

    When: 1995-1998

    John Elway and Rod Smith only connected for 22 receptions in the receiver's first two seasons in the NFL. Doesn't indicate stats that would put the two on this list, right? Wrong.

    In Elway's final two seasons, the Denver Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls, and these two were a primary reason for that. The 156 receptions and 18 touchdowns during that span do not tell the entire story.

    In Elway's final game, the 1998 Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons, he and Rod Smith connected five times for 152 yards and an 80-yard touchdown pass. This cemented Elway's legacy as one of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL and put Smith into the national headlines. 

    Smith caught 849 passes for more than 11,000 yards in his career. 

42. Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss

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    Where: Minnesota Vikings 

    When: 1999-2004

    These two probably had the greatest four-year stretch in NFL history. From 2000-2003, Randy Moss put up video game numbers: 376 receptions, 5,649 yards and 49 touchdowns. This was one of the best four-year stretches for a wide receiver in NFL history.

    The reason why Daunte Culpepper and Moss are so low on this list is because they never made it past the conference championship game with Minnesota and struggled a great deal in the playoffs. 

    Still, this was one dynamic duo to watch. 

41. Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald

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    Where: Arizona Cardinals

    When: 2005-2009

    In 2008, the Arizona Cardinals—with a "washed up" quarterback and a young receiver—shocked the football world. Following a regular season that saw them go 9-7, Arizona swept through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. 

    This was the Cardinals' first Super Bowl appearance in Arizona and made both players icons in the desert. 

    Warner had already cemented his legacy from a former Arena League star to Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the St. Louis Rams. It appeared he was hanging onto those memories when he joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2005 following a poor one-year performance with the New York Giants.

    However, in two seasons from 2008-2009, these were the two best players at their positions in the NFL. The two combined for 193 receptions for more than 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. Since, Warner is retired, waiting for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, and Fitzgerald is putting up record-setting numbers. 

40. Lynn Dickey and James Lofton

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    Where: Green Bay Packers

    When: 1978-1985

    From 1978 to 1985, the Green Bay Packers had only two winning seasons and made the playoffs a grand total of once. Lynn Dickey wasn't one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for this heralded franchise and it was considered one of the worse runs in Packers history.

    So, why have this duo on this list?

    Because what Dickey and James Lofton did for those eight years was extraordinary. 

    Lofton had five 1,000-yard seasons in that span and make the Pro Bowl a total of seven times. He led the league in yards per reception in both 1983 and 1984.. 

    Dickey, on the other hand, led the league in pass yards (4,458) and touchdowns (32) in 1983, the same year Lofton racked up 1,300 receiving yards.

    In all, Lofton caught 466 passes for 8,816 yards in those eight seasons. 

39. Jim Kelly and Andre Reed

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    Where: Buffalo Bills

    When: 1986-1996

    In the 11-year span that Jim Kelly and Andre Reed were teammates, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs eight times. From 1990-1992 the Bills three-peated as AFC Champions, only to lose in the Super Bowl each season. 

    This is still the most successful run in the 52-year history of the Buffalo Bills franchise, and these are two of the players most responsible for it.

    During this span, over a third of Kelly's touchdown passes went to No. 83 and they were one of the most prolific tandems in the NFL at that time. Reed caught more than 700 passes in those 11 seasons and made it to the Pro Bowl seven times. Consequently, Kelly made the Pro Bowl five times, was named first-team All-Pro in 1991 and had 20 or more touchdown passes seven times. 

38. Jim Zorn and Steve Largent

13 of 50

    Where: Seattle Seahawks

    When: 1976-1984

    Despite the fact that Seattle only made the playoffs twice in the seven seasons that Zorn and Largent played together, they were one dynamic duo. 

    Largent had six 1,000-yard seasons and led the NFL in yards in 1979 and 1985. Additionally, the Hall of Fame wide receiver had 72 touchdown receptions during that span. While Zorn only started eight games in their final two seasons together, what they did prior to that was amazing. 

    Zorn, who wasn't even an above-average quarterback in his time with Seattle, relied heavily on Largent for big plays and in the red zone. For this, and nothing else, I have to include them on the list. 

37. Brett Favre and Donald Driver

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    Where: Green Bay Packers

    When: 1999-2007

    Donald Driver was a little-known seventh-round pick from Alcorn State when he joined Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in 1999. Now 12 years later, he is the franchise's all-time leading receiver. 

    From 1999-2007, Green Bay made the playoffs five times but wasn't able to do much in the playoffs. Still, this tandem was among the league's best.

    In the six-year span from 2002-2007, Favre and Driver connected for nearly 500 completions and 35 touchdowns. The future Hall of Fame quarterback began relying more and more on this little-know receiver and a great chemistry was created between the two. 

36. Bart Starr and Max McGee

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    Where: Green Bay Packers

    When: 1957-1967

    Talk about success—this tandem had a lot of that. The Green Bay Packers compiled nine consecutive winning seasons 1959-1967 and captured five different championships. 

    They won the NFL Championship in 1961, 1962 and 1965 before becoming the first Super Bowl champions in 1966 and repeating in 1967. 

    This has to be considered the first great NFL dynasty in the Super Bowl era. Bart Starr was named Super Bowl MVP in both of their title seasons and his main target was Max McGee.

    The two played 11 seasons together with the Packers. McGee caught an astounding—for that time—309 passes for 5,500 yards and 41 touchdowns, the majority from Starr.

35. Cecil Isbell and Don Hutson

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    Where: Green Bay Packers

    When: 1938-1942

    I am not sure how many of you were around when these two were breaking records in circa World War II America. I know I wasn't, but they still have to be considered one of the greatest tandems in the history of the league. 

    Cecil Isbell and Don Hutson only played together for five seasons but the impact can still be felt today. This was an era when the forward pass started to become what we see in the NFL today, and these two were the best at it.

    Isbell led the league in completions, yards and touchdowns in 1941 and 1942. Meanwhile, Hutson led the league in receiving yards in four of the six seasons the two played together. Even more impressive is the 39 touchdown passes Isbell threw in 1941 and 1942, 27 of which were to Hutson.

    The Green Bay Packers won the NFL Championship in 1939.

34. Steve McNair and Derrick Mason

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    Where: Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens

    When: 1997-2004, 2006-2007

    From 1997-2004, the Tennessee Titans won double-digit games four separate times and went to the Super Bowl in 1999, where they lost a heart-breaker to the St. Louis Rams.

    During this time, Steve "Air" McNair and Derrick Mason became one of the most prolific and clutch tandems in the NFL. After playing sparingly on offense in his first three seasons, Mason came through big time for the Titans in 2000 and it never stopped.

    From 2000-2004, the two connected on 406 receptions and 34 touchdown passes. Still, it is the near-miss in the Super Bowl against St. Louis that haunts this Tennessee franchise.

    Mason moved on from the Titans in 2004 and McNair did the same just a season later. They were reunited in Baltimore in 2006 but couldn't fully repeat the success they saw in Tennessee.

    Mason is still going strong with the New York Jets, but McNair's life came to a tragic end in 2009 when he fell victim to a murder-suicide in Nashville.

33. Joe Montana and Dwight Clark

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    Where: San Francisco 49ers

    When: 1979-1987

    Both Joe Montana and Dwight Clark became household names in the NFL when the upstart San Francisco 49ers defeated "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys, in the 1981 NFC Championship. What a lot of people don't know is that both Montana and Clark were members of the 1979 draft class and joined a dormant San Francisco 49ers franchise.

    Over the next nine seasons, San Francisco made the playoffs six times and won the Super Bowl in both of its appearances. This was a time that began a 49ers dynasty that concluded with a fifth championship 16 years after these two were drafted together.

    Overall, Clark caught more than 500 passes for nearly 7,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. However, this tandem will be best known for beating America's Team and starting one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history. 

32T. Dan Marino and Mark Clayton

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    Where: Miami Dolphins 

    When: 1983-1993

    Man, these Miami Dolphins were one great team but could never get over the top to win a Super Bowl. Instead, they have to recollect on a time when their offense was one of the best to watch play the game of football.

    I was too young to experience what this team did for their first couple seasons but towards the middle is when I really started following the NFL at the age of seven or eight. 

    Dan Marino and Mark Clayton were just good with one another. They complemented each other a great deal and are still friends to this day. It is that kind of connection that made them so great. 

    In the 11-year span that these two were together, Miami won double-digit games fives times and the duo put up some stupid numbers: 582 receptions, nearly 9,000 yards and 84 touchdowns. In fact, the only other quarterback to throw a touchdown to Clayton in Miami was Ron Jaworski in the very last game of the 1988 season.

32T. Dan Marino and Mark Duper

20 of 50

    Where: Miami Dolphins 

    When: 1983-1992

    I couldn't put one combo ahead of another, so I placed Mark Clayton and Mark Duper in a tie. I will probably end up upsetting some Clayton fans here, but this was extremely hard to put together. 

    In 10 seasons together, Dan Marino and Clayton combined for more than 500 receptions, nearly 9,000 yards and 59 touchdowns. I don't think you can say that Clayton or Duper were Marino's No. 1 receiver. I think it is more like 1A and 1B. 

    In fact, Duper caught touchdown passes from three different players in his career: Dan Marino (57), Don Strock (one) and, yes, Mark Clayton (one). 

30. Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens

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    Where: San Francisco 49ers 

    When: 1999-2003

    The last time San Francisco made the playoffs, these two players were among the league's best quarterback and wide receiver tandems. From 1999-2003, Jeff Garcia threw 125 touchdown passes, 55 of which were to Terrell Owens

    Garcia made the Pro Bowl three times, while Owens received first-team All-Pro honors three times and led the league in touchdowns twice. The two combined for more than 6,000 yards in that five-year span.  

    To be honest, it was the most likely of marriages and it didn't end all too well, but these two players are representations of the end of San Francisco's 20-year dynasty. 

29. Tom Brady and Randy Moss

22 of 50

    Where: New England Patriots 

    When: 2007-2010

    These two only played a total of 37 games (just over two seasons) with one another, but the impact they had was nothing less than amazing on the NFL as a whole. 

    In 2007, the Patriots became the first NFL team to go undefeated in a regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the only team to do it in a 16-game season. That season saw both Tom Brady and Randy Moss hit the record books. 

    Brady threw for nearly 5,000 yards and an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes, which he might break this season. 2007 also saw Moss break one of Jerry Rice's records, and he caught 23 touchdowns from Brady. 

    Most of us remember this exceptional display of football like it was yesterday, but it was short-lived. The Patriots lost in the Super Bowl that season and Brady missed all but one game of the 2008 season. In 2009, they combined for another 13 touchdown passes. 

28. Rich Gannon and Tim Brown

23 of 50

    Where: Oakland Raiders 

    When: 1999-2003

    One had been on a struggling Raiders team that hadn't finished above .500 for the last season and who just returned to Oakland after being in Los Angeles for the previous 14 years. The other was a journeyman quarterback that had started only 23 games the last five seasons. 

    They came together in Oakland prior to the 1999 season.

    Of course, I am talking about Rich Gannon and Tim Brown. 

    In five seasons together, the Raiders finished with double-digit wins three times and made the playoffs a total of four times. This all came to an amazing climax that saw Oakland surprise the entire league in 2002 and make it to the Super Bowl before losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    During their five seasons together in Oakland, Gannon and Brown took their previous frustrations out on the AFC West, in particular, and the AFC conference, in general. 

    Tim Brown netted nearly 400 receptions for 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, while Gannon made only four Pro Bowl appearances in a career that spanned 18 seasons and three decades. 

27. Warren Moon and Cris Carter

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    Where: Minnesota Vikings 

    When: 1994-1996

    Warren Moon was 38 years old when he left the only team he had ever played for, the Houston Oilers, in an already illustrious career. What did he have to gain at this age? Well, the future Hall of Fame quarterback wanted to win a title. 

    While this did not happen, Moon did pair up with another future Hall of Fame player, wide receiver Chris Carter, and the pair had an amazing couple of seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. 

    In 1994 and 1995 Minnesota only went 18-14 combined, but that wasn't the story here. Carter caught 244 passes and scored a total of 24 touchdowns. The 244 catches was a two-year NFL record at that time. 

    Moon, on the other hand, revamped a career that had seen him struggle the previous two seasons with the Houston Oilers.

26. Joe Namath and Don Maynard

25 of 50

    Where: New York Jets

    When: 1965-1972

    Joe Namath's stats don't tell the entire story of his career. Some people might actually be surprised to learn that he threw 47 more interceptions (220) than touchdowns (173) in his 13-year NFL career. However, it is what "Broadway Joe" accomplished with Don Maynard and the New York Jets from 1965-1970 that has them on this list. 

    The two connected on 322 passes and 45 touchdowns in those six seasons while leading the Jets to a surprising Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, led by Johnny Unitas. 

    It was in that moment of time that Namath became a savior for the city of New York as Maynard became the Jets' all-time leading receiver. 

    Now that it is all said and done, Namath is still the Jets' all-time leading passer and Maynard is their all-time leading receiver. 

    And the 1968 New York Jets are still the only team in the franchise's history to win the Super Bowl. 

25. George Blanda and Charley Hennigan

26 of 50

    Where: Houston Oilers

    When: 1960-1966

    George Blanda joined the expansion Houston Texans in 1960 following 11 seasons in professional football with three different teams. Charley Hennigan was picked in the American Football League's first annual draft by the very same Oilers franchise, owned by Bud Adams.

    They won the first two AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961. 

    Hennigan caught 410 passes for 6,823 yards and 51 touchdowns in his seven seasons, all with Blanda and the Houston Oilers. 

    Blanda played in four difference decades (1949-1975) and threw for nearly 27,000 yards. However, he never experienced the same success that the Houston Oilers had in the 1960s. 

24. Joe Theismann and Art Monk

27 of 50

    Where: Washington Redskins

    When: 1980-1985

    Joe Theismann and Art Monk did not play together for a long time, but when they did Washington was one heck of a football team.

    The Washington Redskins won two consecutive NFC Championships, beating the Miami Dolphins in 1982 and losing to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983. Art Monk didn't have a huge impact on either of those Super Bowls, but his presence on Washington's offense was felt for the six seasons he played with Theismann, 1984 being the best. Monk caught more than 100 passes that season to lead the league and become a first-team All-Pro performer. 

    This all came tumbling down on a Monday Night game in Week 11, where Lawrence Taylor laid the hit that was heard around the world that ended Theismann's career prematurely. 

23. Babe Parilli and Gino Cappelletti

28 of 50

    Where: Boston Patriots

    When: 1961-1967

    Alright, now we are going back into the early days of the the Boston (New England) Patriots franchise. The year was 1961, John Kennedy had just been elected president of the United States, and the great franchise you see today was just being born. 

    After struggling through its first season in the AFL, Boston turned to Babe Parilli to lead the offense and he teamed up with Gino Cappelletti to make up one fierce quarterback-wide receiver combination. 

    From 1961-1967, the Patriots had five winning seasons, going to the AFL Championship in 1963. This tandem combined for 277 receptions and 40 touchdowns during that span—really good numbers for that era. 

    Parilli led the league with nearly 3,500 yards passing and 31 touchdowns in 1964, earning him All-Pro honors. Cappelletti, on the other hand, made five Pro Bowl appearances. 

    It doesn't sound like a lot, but you have to remember this was the early days of the Patriots franchise, and they set the bar extremely high. 

22. Sammy Baugh and Hugh Taylor

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    Where: Washington Redskins 

    When: 1947-1952

    The Washington Redskins of this era did not accomplish a great deal. It was the end of "Slinging" Sammy Baugh's career, and the numbers weren't that great, either. 

    However, this was an era where the passing attacks began at full earnest and these two were right in the midst of it. 

    The two combined for 42 touchdowns in the six seasons they played together in the nation's capital. 

21. Otto Graham and Mac Speedie

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    Where: Cleveland Browns 

    When: 1946-1952

    Continuing with the "old school" theme, let me bring you the story of the great "Otto and Mac" show. Sounds like a really bad Kevin James movie, huh? Not really, these two were trendsetters of their time.

    The Cleveland Browns won five consecutive All-American Football Conference Championships from 1946 to 1950. The stars of these teams were Graham and Speedie.

    Together, they combined for 349 receptions and more than 5,600 yards in the air. Keep in mind this was during a time in which throwing for more than 1,800 yards in a season was extraordinary. 

    In fact, Speedie actually had two 1,000-yard seasons. This is what I mean by "trendsetting." 

    Graham still remains one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. He won seven championships and earned eight first-team All-Pro honors. 

20. Brett Favre and Sterling Sharpe

31 of 50

    Where: Green Bay Packers

    When: 1992-1994

    They only played together for three seasons because Sterling Sharpe lost the prime of his career to an injury and never played a snap following the 1994 season. 

    I don't only have this duo on the list because of what they accomplished on the field, but because of what could have been. The photo tells you pretty much what you need to know about that. 

    Still, this was one great tandem for the three years they played together. 

    The two combined for 315 receptions, 3,854 yards and 42 touchdowns in those three seasons while leading the Packers to the playoffs twice. 

    Sharpe was the first of many go-to guys for one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. 

19. Kurt Warner and Torry Holt

32 of 50

    Where: St. Louis Rams

    When: 1999-2003

    During a three-year span from 1999-2001, the St. Louis Rams set the NFL on fire with the "greatest show on turf." They went a combined 37-11 in those three seasons, winning the Super Bowl in 1999 against the Tennessee Titans and losing to the New England Patriots in 2001.

    Statistically speaking, Kurt Warner had the best three seasons in NFL history from 1999-2001. He threw for 12,612 yards and 98 touchdowns. 

    Those same three years saw Torry Holt rack up 215 receptions for 3,758 yards. Oh, and these were his first three seasons in the NFL.

    Despite not playing together for a long time, I have to put them high on this list because of what happened during those three seasons. 

    They revolutionized the way modern offenses play football. 

18. Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson

33 of 50

    Where: Dallas Cowboys

    When: 1973-1979

    If it weren't for the Pittsburgh Steelers, "America's Team" would have captured multiple Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. Instead, they lost twice to Pittsburgh in a four-year span. 

    Still, Dallas was able to win one title, Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos. 

    After winning the Heisman Trophy with Navy and spending a tour of duty in Vietnam, Staubach joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 and proceeded to lead them to nine consecutive winning seasons. During this span his main target was Pearson.

    The statistics aren't great for Pearson, who is still not in the Hall of- Fame, but he made a lot of big catches when it counted the most: in the end of games and in the playoffs. 

    In all, the two connected for more than 5,500 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. 

17. Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne

34 of 50

    Where: Indianapolis Colts

    When: 2001-Current

    Their success has to go down in the annals of NFL history as one of the all-time greatest duos in NFL history. 

    From 2002 to 2010 the Indianapolis Colts won a total of 109 regular season games, compared to just 35 losses. For those of you wondering, that means they won 76 percent of their regular season games. 

    Indianapolis beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI with Manning earning MVP honors. A couple seasons later the Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in the big game. 

    Despite this regular season success, Manning and Wayne have only been able to win one championship. As it appears, this dynasty may be coming to an end and it is important to understand what these two players did.

    Wayne caught 787 passes for 10,750 yards and 69 touchdowns from 2001 to 2010. In fact, prior to this season, the only quarterback that had ever thrown a touchdown to Wayne was Peyton Manning

    This makes them one of the greatest tandems in this history of any professional football league in America. 

16. Bob Griese and Paul Warfield

35 of 50

    Where: Miami Dolphins 

    When: 1970-1974

    It is too bad that Bob Griese wasn't able to lead the Miami Dolphins the entire 1972. Instead, Earl Morrall finished an undefeated season that Griese had started. Though, the Hall-of-Fame quarterback did lead Miami in their record-breaking Super Bowl victory against the Washington Redskins to finish 17-0. 

    Still, these two players were great in what they did. 

    Paul Warfield made the Pro Bowl in all five seasons these two played together, while Griese earned such honors four times. 

    The Miami Dolphins went a combined 57-12 during these five seasons and repeated as Super Bowl champions—the last two Super Bowls that Miami would win. 

15. Len Dawson and Otis Taylor

36 of 50

    Where: Kansas City Chiefs 

    When: 1965-1975

    Len Dawson and Otis Taylor were teammates for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1965-1975, and their success is unmatched in the history of this franchise. 

    Dawson led the then-Dallas Texans to an AFL Championship in 1962, but the fun really got started when Otis Taylor joined Dawson in Kansas City in 1965 after they moved from Texas.

    Kansas City took part in Super Bowl I against the Green Bay Packers, only to lose to Bart Starr. However, a couple years later the Chiefs upended the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, the last title of any kind for Kansas City. 

    In all, Kansas City finished with winning records in nine consecutive seasons, from 1965-1973, and these two were primary reasons for that.

    Taylor caught 410 passes for more than 7,300 yards in his 11 seasons with Dawson in Kansas City. Dawson still remains the franchise's career leader in passing yards and finally joined the Hall of Fame in 1987 after being a finalist in 1982 and 1986.

    Taylor is still waiting and will probably never get the call. 

14. Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann

37 of 50

    Where: Pittsburgh Steelers

    When: 1974-1982

    From 1974 to 1979, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a winning record every single season.  During that span Pittsburgh won four Super Bowl titles, marking one of the greatest legacies in NFL history. 

    We all know about the "steel curtain" and Lynn Swann's Super Bowl X heroics against the Dallas Cowboys, but what some of us didn't know is that neither Swann or Terry Bradshaw were that great during the regular year.

    Swann never had a 1,000-yard campaign in nine NFL seasons, and Bradshaw only made the Pro Bowl three times in 14 seasons.

    This is what makes their postseason and Super Bowl success so amazing. They were clutch players with a feel for the big game. 

    And this is why this duo stands at No. 23 on this list. 

13. Dan Fouts and Charlie Joiner

38 of 50

    Where: San Diego Chargers

    When: 1976-1986

    Now this is where it gets interesting. I contemplated putting Dan Fouts on here with Kellen Winslow, but he was not a wide receiver. Maybe I can do an article on those duos later.

    Still, I had to include a duo from an offense that revolutionized how modern football was played and Fouts had to be on this list. 

    While the San Diego Chargers failed to make the Super Bowl in the 11 seasons that Fouts and Charlie Joiner were teammates, their success needs to be measured a little differently. 

    From 1979 to 1981, Fouts broke NFL records. He threw for more than 13,600 yards and 87 touchdowns in those three seasons. We now call it the "Air Coryell" offense. It was one of the greatest passing offenses in the history of the league.

    Joiner caught more than 200 passes and had 1,000-yard campaigns in each season from 1979-1981.

    Fouts was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1993 and Joiner in 1996.

12. John Hadl and Lance Alworth

39 of 50

    Where: San Diego Chargers

    When: 1962-1970

    Long before "Air Coryell" became synonymous with the San Diego Chargers, there was John Hadl and Lance Alworth mucking it up for the franchise. 

    They played together for nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers and combined for some extraordinary numbers and success. The Chargers reached the AFL playoffs five times, made it to the league championship four times and finally won the title in 1963 with a 53-10 win over the Boston Patriots.

    Statistically, it was even more eye-opening. Alworth would caught 459 passes for more than 9,500 yards and 81 touchdowns in the nine seasons he played with Hadl. 

11. Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce

40 of 50

    Where: St. Louis Rams

    When: 1998-2003

    I am sure we all remember "the greatest show on turf." Well, Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce were major parts of this. They were two heads of a four-headed monster. 

    From 1999 to 2001 these two stars combined for 228 receptions and 27 touchdowns while the Rams ran rough-shot over opposing defenses. They averaged well over 30 points per game during this span and won the Super Bowl in 1999.

    In that Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans, Warner and Bruce connected six times for 162 yards and a touchdown. 

10. Kenny Stabler and Cliff Branch

41 of 50

    Where: Oakland Raiders

    When: 1972-1979

    The Oakland Raiders had a winning record every single season that Kenny Stabler and Cliff Branch played together. More than that, they won five consecutive AFC West Championships and won the Super Bowl in 1976. 

    Although Branch only had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons during this span, he was a major big-play threat for "the snake" and helped expand the offense a great deal. 

    Listen, I am not going to get into a debate on the merits of a certain players being Hall of Fame caliber but I will tell you one thing: Both of these players deserve to be in Canton.

    Stabler still remains the franchise's all-time leader in pass yards and touchdowns. Branch caught more than 500 passes for just under 9,000 yards and 67 touchdowns. He also had a whopping 17.3 yards-per-catch average over his career.

    Earlier this year I had the honor of interviewing Branch, and this was his take when asked if he was upset at not having been inducted in the Hall of Fame.

    Yeah, yeah I am. I have been nominated a couple times, in 2010 and 2004. How do you go as a top-25 guy and then you don't be in the top 25 anymore? Ray Guy and Kenny Stabler have been there numerous times and they haven't got the call.

    It is kind of a joke how the Hall of Fame selection committee selects the players. We look at it now, if you are on TV and you are a candidate you are going right in. All those guys that are on ESPN, NFL Network and FOX, if they are Hall of Fame candidates they go right in.

9. Don Meredith and Bob Hayes

42 of 50

    Where: Dallas Cowboys

    When: 1965-1968

    For a four-year span it was Don Meredith and Bob Hayes that were making headlines in Texas. They were playing under the iconic Tom Landry in the first couple years of his coaching career.

    Although Dallas was unable to capture a championship, these two set a standard that Roger Staubach and Drew Pearson, as well as Troy Aikman and Michael Irving, had to live up to. 

    In their four seasons together, the duo combined for 242 receptions for 3,235 yards and 35 touchdowns. It was the beginning of "America's Team," and every single Dallas Cowboys player that followed fully understood this. 

8. Daryle Lamonica and Fred Biletnikoff

43 of 50

    Where: Oakland Raiders

    When: 1967-1974

    The Oakland Raiders did not have a losing season while Lamonica and Biletnikoff played together in the late 60s and early 70s—they had eight consecutive winning seasons. In fact, Oakland went a combined 37-4 from 1967-1969.

    The Raiders only went to one Super Bowl during that era and they lost to the Green Bay Packers that season. This is probably why some of you are not that familiar this duo.

    Let me give you a couple different facts to help familiarize you with them:

    From 1967 to 1972, Lamonica threw for more than 16,000 combined yards and 145 touchdowns. He also made the Pro Bowl four times, while earning first-team All-Pro honors.

    From 1967 to 1974, Biletnikoff was one of the best receivers in the league. He only had one 1,000-yard season but was a model of consistency with more than 6,600 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns. 

7. Sonny Jurgensen and Charley Taylor

44 of 50

    Where: Washington Redskins  

    When: 1964-1974

    The Washington Redskins of this era were not one of the greatest teams in the NFL, but they did have two Hall of Fame players: Sonny Jurgensen and Charley Taylor. 

    The two set the football world on fire for more than 11 seasons and became one of the first true elite quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the Super Bowl era. 

    Taylor compiled modern-like stats in his decade with Jurgensen. 

    You are looking at nearly 600 receptions for more than 9,200 yards and 73 touchdowns. The amazing statistic is that Taylor only had one 1,000-yard season during this span, making him one of the most consistent receivers in history. Overall, he made the Pro Bowl eight times.

    On the other hand, Jurgensen had been a castoff from a Philadelphia Eagles team that struggled to win games. Once joining Washington he became one of the best quarterbacks in the entire league but was still unable to win. He only made the playoffs twice in his career.

    Still, you are looking at a quarterback that threw for more than 32,000 yards and 255 touchdowns before the post-modern NFL offense took full-steam in the late 1970s. 

6. Norm Van Brocklin and Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch

45 of 50

    Where: Los Angeles Rams

    When: 1949-1957

    Keep in mind: This was an era of the NFL in which players didn't compile 1,000-yard receiving seasons or 3,000-yard passing campaigns. The forward pass had been around a great while, but it was still being perfected. 

    Let me put it in perspective for you.

    In 1951, "Crazy Legs" Hirsch led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,495. The second closest player barely had over 800 yards. Yes, that is Babe Ruth-type numbers, if you ask me. 

    Overall, Van Brocklin and Hirsch combined for 333 receptions, 7,200 yards and 53 touchdowns with the Rams. 

5. Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin

46 of 50

    Where: Dallas Cowboys

    When: 1989-1999

    When Troy Aikman was drafted No. 1 overall in 1989 the Dallas Cowboys were coming off a 3-13 season that saw their long-time head coach of 29 years, Tom Landry, practically get shoved out the door by Jerry Jones. 

    This team was a complete and utter mess. Troy Aikman ended up going 0-11 as a starting quarterback his rookie season—the worse single-season record for any rookie quarterback in NFL history.

    Fast forward three years and they were Super Bowl champions. 

    From 1990-1996 the Dallas Cowboys won 10 or more games each season and won three Super Bowls. Not only did they win those three titles, the Cowboys outscored their opponents by a combined 109-47.

    Aikman and Irvin connected more than 700 times for 11,000 yards and 60 touchdowns during this 11-year run. 

    Aikman made the Hall of Fame in 2006 and Irvin did one year later. 

4. Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry

47 of 50

    Where: Baltimore Colts

    When: 1956-1967

    The Baltimore Colts did not have a losing season from 1957 to 1967 with Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry on the team. They won NFL championships in 1958 and 1959 and lost to "Broadway Joe" and the New York Jets in the Super Bowl a couple seasons later.

    More than that, these two players represented exactly what it meant to have an on-field connection. In 12 seasons together they combined for more than 600 receptions and 9,200 yards. Keep in mind they were playing in the difficult NFL, not the much-maligned AFL.

    Berry, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972, played his entire career with Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, turning down opportunities to play elsewhere following the 1967 season. 

    These two have to be considered one of the greatest tandems in the history of the league and that is why I have them here. 

3. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison

48 of 50

    Where: Indianapolis Colts

    When: 1998-2009

    We already saw Manning on this list with Reggie Wayne, but their connection pales in comparison to that of Manning and Marvin Harrison.

    Harrison failed to put up 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons before the Colts drafted Manning No. 1 overall in 1998 and didn't do so their first season together, either. 

    For the next eight seasons that would not be a problem; the lowest yardage output that Harrison had during that span was 1,113 in 2004.

    Overall, Harrison would compiled staggering statistics with Manning—nearly 1,000 receptions, more than 1,300 yards and 114 touchdowns. 

    This is the reason they are at No. 3 on this list. 

    After struggling to a 3-13 season in Manning's rookie campaign in 1998, the rest is history. The Colts went 128-48 in the remaining 11 years of Harrison's career. They won the Super Bowl over Chicago in 2006. 

2. Steve Young and Jerry Rice

49 of 50

    Where: San Francisco 49ers

    When: 1987-1999

    Steve Young did not become the San Francisco full-time starting quarterback until 1991 after spending four seasons backing up Joe Montana. However, what he did after that made him one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. 

    On the other hand, Jerry Rice was already entrenched as "the greatest" before Steve Young took the helm for San Francisco.

    From 1991 to 1998, the San Francisco 49ers won double-digit games each season and they grabbed the Super Bowl title against the San Diego Chargers in 1994.

    Rice compile awe-inspiring stats from 1991-1999 with Steve Young: nearly 700 receptions, 10,000 yards and 85 touchdowns. In the 49ers' Super Bowl year, 1995, Rice broke the single-season receiving record with a whopping 1,848 yards. 

    On the same note, Young made the Pro Bowl each and every season from 1992 to 1998 and earned first-team All-Pro honors three times. He finished No. 1 in completion percentage five times, touchdown passes four times and quarterback rating six times.

    They were the greatest statistical tandem in the history of the NFL at that time.

1. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice

50 of 50

    Where: San Francisco 49ers

    When: 1985-1992

    Really, who else would I have here? While I might get some heat for having Jerry Rice both No. 1 and No. 2 on this list, it couldn't be any other way. 

    This way by far the greatest duo in the history of the NFL. Stats may indicate that Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison or Steve Young and Jerry Rice belong here but we all know that isn't true.

    In their time together with the 49ers the team won five NFC West titles, recorded double-digit victories six times, won two Super Bowls and Rice Had six 1,000 yard receiving seasons.

    The climax of their journey to greatness together came in two Super Bowl victories where the two combined for 18 receptions, 363 yards and four touchdowns. The final Super Bowl they would play in came against the Denver Broncos, a game they won 55-10.

    It has been concluded by most football historians that Joe Montana is the best quarterback to ever play and Jerry Rice is by far the best wide receiver to play. So, this is why they are cemented in the No. 1 overall position on this list.

    Follow me on Twitter for more great analysis  @Nocal81


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