The Super Bowl History of the San Francisco 49ers.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl 16
There really is nothing else except the quarterback.- Tom Landry, after the NFC Championship

What was it like to be a San Francisco 49ers fan in the late 1970s?

We had won 4 games out of our last 35 as we hit 1980.  When you’re a ten year old sports inclined boy living in the Bay Area, forming attachments for the first time with institutions outside of your own head, and the NFL team is as existentially bad as those late 70s 49ers teams, you either distance yourself emotionally out of an instinctive sense of self-protection, or you wear the losing as if part of your own identity, the shortcomings of your team mirroring your innermost lack of belief in your own worth.

I made the wrong choice. 

Until it started raining Super Bowls.

30+ years later, “The Catch” has withstood time’s passage and emerged as probably the signature play in NFL history, but at the time, the 49er vanquishing of America’s Team did not make us prohibitive favorites in Super Bowl 16.  Kenny Anderson, who should be at the top of your list of greatest NFL players not in the Hall of Fame, led the NFL in passing, and the Niners had to travel to the Midwest, as the Super Bowl was played in Detroit, a decision that seemed curious even at the time. 

Vegas missed and so did Landry, for while the quarterback was named MVP – Super Bowl 16 came down to Turnovers, Ray Wersching, and Danny Bunz.

The 49er franchise has dominated America’s Greatest Day like no other, but they began by fumbling their opening kickoff.  It was the only Niner turnover of the game; the Bengals gave it up 3 times before the end of the first half, each turnover directly led to Niner points (hold onto the ball in the Super Bowl; there have been 46 Super Bowls, in 37 of them there was a difference in the number of turnovers the teams had – in those 37 games, the team that won the turnover battle won the game 34 times.  Can I say it again please?  Only 3 times in Super Bowl history has the team that committed more turnovers won.  Don’t turn the ball over.)  

The Niners had long first half touchdown drives, of 6 and 7 minutes (who scored the first 49er Super Bowl Touchdown – Joe, Just Joe – you say Joe to any San Francisco sports fan regardless of context and he knows who you mean) and ended the half with a Ray Wersching squib kickoff that turned into a Bengal fumble that turned into a half ending field goal. 

Wersching was 4-4 in field goals in Super Bowl 16, added a fifth field goal three years later, all without a miss.  His post football life has not been as spotless. 

I was 11 years old in January of 1982; when you’re 11 years old and the football team you love has a 20 point halftime lead in the Super Bowl, all is right with the universe. 

Our lead was still 13 points as the third quarter ended, but only after the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history

It’s easily forgotten that the Bengals converted on fourth and one on the play just before the four downs that would define Super Bowl 16, with a two yard Pete Johnson run. 

First down, goal to go from the 3 – Johnson got two more, once again in the middle of the line, stopped by 
John Choma (who started the season as aon offensive lineman) followed by Danny Bunz.

Second down, goal to go from the 1 – Johnson again - Bunz eats up the lead blocker, allowing for the tackle by Craig Puki and Hacksaw Reynolds

Third down, goal to go from the 1– A pass, in the flat to Charles Alexander, just outside end zone, stopped by a Bunz waist tackle

Fourth down, goal to go from the 1 – with only 10 men on defense for the Niners, Johnson ran into the line where he was stopped  at the goal line by Hacksaw, Ronnie Lott, and Danny Bunz.

In Super Bowl 16, Dan Bunz only played on the goal line and special teams – if I had an MVP vote for the game, it would have gone to Wersching (two successful squib kicks and 4 FGs) but as good a choice would have been Bunz.

The Bengals weren’t done after the goal line stand; they cut the score to 20-14 with ten minutes to go; but the Niners drove 50 yards in 5 minutes, including five Ricky Patton runs, to set up a big Wersching 40 yard field goal that made it a two score game with five and a half left.  If the game situation Sunday is the same, and David Akers lines up to attempt a 40 yard field goal that will either put the game nearly out of reach or give Joe Flacco the ball, how comfortable are you that the outcome will be the same?

One last Bengal turnover, an Eric Wright pick, led to the 4th Wersching kick; a garbage time Bengal touchdown gave us the final score of 26-21.  

Super Bowl 19
This week we are playing against the greatest passer of all time, as I understand it –Bill Walsh, discussing the conventional wisdom about Dan Marino

In 1984, Dan Marino lapped the field; 400 more yards, 16 more touchdowns, a yard and a half more yards/attempt than any other quarterback.  1984 was Neil Lomax’s career year; he was the only quarterback within a thousand yards of Marino.  Neil Lomax was sacked 49 times to Dan Marino’s 13.  Dan Marino’s quarterback rating in the AFC Championship game was over 135. Dan Marino was playing Nintendo and the rest of the league was a broke down electric football board.

The Dolphins had our old defensive coordinator; Chuck Studley was our coordinator 3 years previous and now he was Miami’s.

And they had a gimmick.  Remember how Hagler came out right handed in the Leonard fight?  You’ve been watching southpaw Marvin Hagler forever – and suddenly he’s right handed? 

The Dolphins went no huddle in the first quarter of Super Bowl 19; this was a brand new offense for the NFL; the Bengals started experimenting with it during the season – but that was Sam Wyche, a coach whose offense the LA Times once called “an assault on the senses” – this was Don Shula, the man in the grey flannel sweater.   If he had given birth during Reagan’s coin toss it wouldn’t have been significantly more unexpected. 

After the first quarter Miami had scored on both of their possessions and we were losing 10-7.   

Then came the second quarter.  Bill Walsh was noted for scripting plays the start a football game, but his ability to adjust on the fly was evident here – the Niners came out in the second quarter with six defensive backs, forced 3 and outs on the next three Dolphin drives – after each of those possession changes the Niners  scored a touchdown, that’s a 21 point swing in 12 minutes, and the game was effectively over.  
Miami’s inability to get a first down during that stretch was exacerbated by punter Reggie Roby; his three punts were 37, 40, and 39 yards – giving the Niners field possession round midfield each time, and when San Francisco converted with scores by Joe and Roger Craig (he had two in this sequence and finished with three, making OJ Simpson’s pregame prediction of a big game for Craig accurate).

Miami got two late first half field goals and then didn’t score at all in the second half; for the game, Marino was sacked four times and threw two picks – I’ve evaluated ever starting quarterback performance in Super Bowl history; out of 92 quarterbacked games – Dan Marino’s only ever Super Bowl was 62nd

Meanwhile, Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler had a combined 270 total yards of offense and Joe Montana followed up his MVP performance from three years previous with a significantly better effort here, 24 for 35, 331 yards, three passing touchdowns and one on the ground, and what is still the second most yards rushing for a Super Bowl quarterback.  This is the fifth best quarterback performance history and not even Joe’s best. 

The Niners – my Niners, who filled my 14 year old life with every bit of non-sex related nourishment I could possibly need, were the first team in NFL history to win 18 games.

And 3 months later, we drafted the greatest football player who ever lived. 

Super Bowl 23
Hey, isn't that John Candy - Joe Montana before the greatest drive in Super Bowl history.

This game made my face break out. 

I wish I had a picture; there weren’t many days when I was 18 years old that I was clear of facial blemish, and the heavy pancake makeup used in college theater didn’t help, as the day before Super Bowl 23 I finished a run giving a mediocre performance in a mediocre play (they were all mediocre, I was always mediocre; I did not appreciate that at the time – as I’ve aged, my youthful accomplishments feel closer to Toddlers & Tiaras than they do to actual attainment; there was some college play where I would make out 
backstage with the girl who did the makeup; that was probably the highlight of my thespian career)

We were big  favorites here; 7 points, but shouldn’t have been – by Pro-Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, the Bengals were the better club in 1988.  In the years between 19 and 23, Joe had broken his back, nearly been traded to San Diego for Billy Ray Smith, and Steve Young had been acquired to begin the most torturous passive aggressive quarterback battle in league history. Our regular season record in 1988 wasn’t only the worst for any Super Bowl winner to that date, it was the worst for an NFL Champ since 1934.  1984 was in the distant past and the clock was ticking on what was not as of yet a dynasty.

With 3 minutes and ten seconds left, down a field goal from our own 8 yard line, that metaphorical clock turned very real.  Historical memory works like this sometimes – had the Niners won 27-10, efficiently extinguishing a Bengal opponent that’s been left in the dustbin, the legend of Montana and the greatness of those 49er teams would have been a little diminished.  Staring immortality down by cracking a John Candy joke in the huddle has become the glow around Joe’s legacy. 

We started with two passes in the middle of the field – Roger Craig for 8, John Frank for 7.
Tick.  Tick.  Tick. 

A 7 yard out on the right to Jerry, and then a one yard Craig run right as we hit the two minute warning.

Third and 2 for the Niners at our own 31. 

Craig off tackle for 4.  1st down.  Timeout #1.

The next two plays got us 30 yards. 

Jerry got 17 on a pass left from Joe, stepping out of bounds to stop the clock, and then Roger caught a 13 yard check down in the middle of the field.  The only incompletion of the drive and a ten yard penalty on Randy Cross, in his last NFL game, backed us up to the Bengal 45, 2nd down and 20, 1 minute and 17 seconds left. 

I’ve done an evaluation of the “real MVPs” of every Super Bowl.  When considering 23 it was largely our defense that carried the bulk of the game - you'd look at Ronnie Lott with his memorable hit on Ickey Woods, leading a secondary that limited a historically underrated Esiason to the 71st best QB game in SB history.  You'd look at Charles Haley, a terror from the edge with 2 sacks and 7 unassisted tackles.  You'd look at Joe - this the 10th best quarterbacked game in SB history 23 of 36 for 357 yards and two scores - and then settle on Jerry Rice- 11 catches for 215 and a score and more than anyone responsible for our winning the game.  If someone can dominate a football game from the WR position - it was Rice in SB23.

On 2nd and 20 from the Bengal 45 Jerry caught a ball over the middle 12 yards downfield, then split two Bengal defensive backs to gain another 15.  We were at the 18 yard line and I was calculating field goal distances. 

Ray Wersching was 5-5 in his two Super Bowls, but now our kicker was Mike Cofer – and he had already missed two attempts during the game.  If we didn’t gain another yard, we were looking at a 35 yarder to send us into overtime, and there wasn’t a Niner fan alive who was confident that kick would be going through. 

Joe hit Roger over the middle for 8.

Timeout.  39 seconds left.  At the Bengal 10.

Baseball was largely a solitary passion for me; pouring over statistics, trying to find out of town radio broadcasts.  Football was about my family; my memory of John Taylor’s catching the game winning touchdown pass on the next play is less about the call (20 Halfback Curl X Up) or JT’s cut to the post that beat Ray Horton by inches to the football.  It was about all five us leaping simultaneously from our seats in maybe the single most unifying moment of family joy in my life.  I am not so good in clusters; I backed out of a dinner a friend was throwing for me when I turned 20 because too many people wound up invited; a girlfriend didn’t even consider asking me to come to a Halloween party she threw once knowing that I wouldn’t have been able to handle it (she was right). My biggest fear in isn’t dying, it’s living in a managed care facility with other people.  I would rather be in the ground than in a rec. room with two dozen other retirees.  I loved those 49ers teams because that was when I could feel the love from my family.  When Joe hit JT to win Super Bowl 23, I could still be me, even though I was not alone.

Super Bowl 24
Wade what do you think about doing something different? – Broncos secondary coach Charlie Watters to D-Coordinator Wade Phillips at halftime

Here’s the thing – by Simple Rating System this Broncos defense was the 21st best in Super Bowl history; they allowed the fewest points in the league in 1989.  The Niners were favored by 7 and a half, but you could not have gone into Super Bowl 24 thinking you were about to see the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history; a 45 point margin in a game where the Niners sat their offensive starters for all but one minute of the 4th quarter. 

Here’s the challenge of picking the greatest 49er Super Bowl winner; the ’84 team was 18-1 and blew out Dan Marino – but didn’t have Jerry Rice.  How can you possibly say the best 49er team wasn’t one with the greatest football player who ever lived?

But this ’89 team didn’t have Bill Walsh; he retired the year prior.  I feel about Bill Walsh the way right wingers feel about Reagan.  I’d like to see a couple of airports, a stretch of the interstate highway system, and maybe some type of hybrid dog breed like a cross between a dachshund and a Labrador retriever named after Bill Walsh.  So to say it was the team without Walsh which was the best is the only blasphemy this atheist is ever going to recognize. 

What I do know is no team in NFL postseason history put on a performance like this Niners team; after going 14-2 in the regular season we won our 3 playoff games by a combined score of 126-26.  Mel Kiper still argues today that John Elway was the greatest quarterback in NFL history – in Super Bowl 24 he turned the ball over three times, was sacked four times, was 10 of 26 for 108 yards and finished with a passer rating under 20.  My evaluation has this the 7th worst quarterbacked game in Super Bowl history.

On the other side of the ball was Joe Montana. 

This was his fourth and final appearance in a Super Bowl; it remains the greatest Super Bowl game anybody ever had.  5 touchdown passes (3 to Rice). A quarterback rating of just under 150.  It was 55-10 with 14 minutes left in the game and we called off the dogs.   I get arguments to the contrary, I do – but if you put every quarterback who ever played on the board, I think you have to take Joe.  Peyton’s never had a good Super Bowl and threw a pick 6 to lose one; Brady lost to two dramatically inferior Giants teams; Favre’s best Super Bowl was the fifteenth best quarterbacked game overall; and when both Marino and Elway had a chance to go up against him, they had all time bad – just epically bad in Elway’s case, performances, and Joe had among the greatest games in NFL history. 

It’s a bit of a love letter – but for one night, no one was ever better than the 1989 Niners. 

Super Bowl 29

If we lose, we die. – Carmen Policy before the NFC Championship game.

Some of the greatest teams in 49er history were in the 1990s, and Steve Young’s regular season performances rank with any in league history.  But season after season we came up short, surpassed first by that Cowboy dynasty and then by Favre’s best Packer teams. 

For one season though, we were once again the baddest team on the planet. 

Here’s a quick gambling tip – don’t give more than 10 in an NFL game.  Ever.  If it’s you and me against Lombardi’s best Packer team, we shouldn’t be more than ten point dogs.  It’s just the nature of the NFL.  A 16 point blowout can be easily backdoor covered into a 9 point “wait, what…” loss.  Just don’t do it.

I gave 18 in Super Bowl 29 and it never once concerned me.

This was a crazy talented football team – Steve and Jerry were now joined by Ricky Watters, who a year before scored 5 touchdowns in the divisional playoffs to retire Lawrence Taylor.  On defense were Hall of Famers Deion Sanders, Rickey Jackson; borderline Hall of Famers Tim McDonald and Bryant Young, and multiple Super Bowl winner Ken Norton.  If Prime Time were 15 years younger he would have his own ESPN special talking about “taking his talents to Ocean Beach” when he signed for this season with the Niners.

I flew to Miami for this game; I couldn’t get tickets, but my parents lived in South Florida, so my record of seeing every Niner Super Bowl with my family continued .

The game was over in 90 seconds; it was like Tyson/Spinks (young Mike Tyson vs the ’94 Niners, discuss) Steve hit Jerry for a 44 yard score on the third play of the game.  After a three and out – we scored again on the 4th play of our second drive, Watters getting a catch and run 51 yard score.  Less than 5 minutes into Super Bowl 29 and we were up 14. 

The final was 49-26 and not that close.  Similar to 5 years previous the Niners finished their scoring at the very beginning of the 4th quarter and coasted home;  the backups came in at mid-quarter leading to a trivia question whose answer is about to change – three 49er quarterbacks have completed Super Bowl passes – who’s the third guy?

It’s Bill Musgrave.

Steve Young threw six touchdown passes and even rushed for 49 yards.  It’s still the second best quarterbacked game in Super Bowl history.  You know who is first.

I took it for granted, the Niner greatness.  We built a better mousetrap and sprung it on the rest of the league for 15 years. 

The 49er dynasty was long ago and far away.  18 years later we’re back – and I’ll be watching the game at my home with my wife.  Or rather, I’ll be watching the game while she puts up with my anguish as long as she can. 

Would you like a prediction? Come back tomorrow. 

Every Super Bowl Quarterback Performance Ranked (Updated through SB 52)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How about a ranking of every super bowl quarterbacking performance?  How would you feel about that?

Normal football qualifiers apply; it's an interdependent game to the point where individual statistics aren't as valuable as in other sports; you want adjustments for era and opponent and they aren't as reliable as are they in baseball; to really do this, you'd want to crunch every play.

The numbers you'll see here are completions/attempts, yds, yds per attempt, touchdowns/interceptions, quarterback rating, rushes/yards. The number after the opponent is the Pro-Football Reference metric that evaluates defense based on points allowed and strength of schedule (through 50, then it stops)  Higher the number – the better the defense which means the tougher the job for the quarterback.  


1. Joe Montana Niners XXIV 22-29 297 10.2 5td/0int 147.6 2/15 Win-Den(5.7)
-Somewhere, in the debate over best QB ever; one should consider that Joe met not just Marino, but also Elway, and these were the results. To my eyes, this game combines the best numbers of Simms (Joe threw for 4 more incompletions, but almost 40 more yards)and Young (Joe's 5 scores are second only to Young's 6, Joe edges him in completion% and yds/att, giving him the higher QB rating). It's playing on the margins with these three games; I think you have to pick one of the three, and all are reasonable. The huge edge in TDs helps Young/Montana, I think, over Simms; and the completion%/QB rating helps Joe over Young. There's a rock/paper/scissors quality to evaluating these final 3 performances; the huge edge in quality of opponent makes Joe the final call.   

2. Steve Young Niners XXIX 24-36 325 9.0 6td/0int 134.8 5/49 Win-SD(.7)
-No, I'm not sure how a 6 touchdown/no interception SB doesn't wind up as the best game ever. Young even added 49 rushing yards.  But the Chargers had a nothing defense, and in this type of air that’s the balance. 

3. Phil Simms NYG XXI 22-25 268 10.7 3td/0int 150.9 3/25 Win-Den(1.8)
-22 of 25. That's really all you have to say. Nothing not to like; a QB rating of over 150. Simms earned his paycheck. Ranking him third might be a function of Young throwing for twice as many scores, also with no picks. The yardage total is also a little soft, sixty yards less than Steve; Denver was solidly better than the Charger team that Young faced.

4. Jim Plunkett Oak XV 13-21 261 12.1 3td/0int 145.0 3/9 Win-Phil(6.8)
- Plunkett, like Bradshaw, did not have a special regular season career; Bradshaw has reasonably become immortalized for his SB success - Plunket's overlooked. This is the third highest SB QB rating ever - and done in an offensive era that didn't support those numbers. Rod Martin had 3 picks in SB15, and revisiting past MVP Award selections sometimes finds those who would say he deserved it here - hard to agree in the face of Plunkett's 12+ yds/att.  The Eagles had the best defense of any of the top 5 performances.

5. Joe Montana Niners XIX 24-35 331 9.5 3td/0int 127.2 5/59(1td) Win-Mia(1.5)
-I love me some Jerry Rice; I believe him to be the greatest football player ever; Michael Irvin calls him "Jesus in cleats" and I think your lord and savior should be humbled by the comparison. But occasionally, an "analyst" will credit Montana's career to Jerry and other all-time greats. Go look at the Niner wideouts for this one. Any list of the all-time greatest QB ever has to have both Montana and Marino in the top 5; they met here and this was the result. Joe also had the 59 yards rushing and a score, still the second highest QB total ever in a SB.

6. Troy Aikman Dall XXVII 22-30 273 9.1 4td/0int 140.7 3/28 Win-Buf (-.4)
-Aikman's 4 score/140+  QB rating game winds up 6th here; the Bills weren’t as good as any of the 5 defenses faced by the quarterbacks who are higher on the list and was way, way below Plunkett’s opponent.

7. Aaron Rodgers GB XLV 24-39 304 7.8 3td/0int 111.5 2/-2 - Win Pittsburgh(7.7)
-The Steelers had the best defense of any opponent for a quarterback in the top 10 and that's what jumps Rodgers ahead of the third Montana.

8. Joe Flacco Balt XLVII 22-33 287 8.7 3TD/0int 124.2 Win-SF (6.7)
-Really similar to the Rodgers game from two years previous; you could order them either way.  

9. Terry Bradshaw Pit XIII 17-30 318 10.6 4td/1int 119.2 2/-5 Win-Dall(5.2)
-The best of Bradshaw's 4 games; Bradshaw and Staubach threw for 7 scores and each had 100+ QB ratings. Bradshaw gets the nod over Williams because of era adjustment and quality of opponent's defense.

10. Doug Williams Wash XXII 18-29 340 11.7 4td/1int 127.9 2/-2 Win-Den(.8)
-Something fun about putting together a list like this is seeing what otherwise unrelated games have very similar statistical lines; look at how Williams and Bradshaw had the same numbers, all the way down to the negative rushing yards. I've also got a list of the 25 best performances in Super Bowl history; this Williams game is the last QB to make that list.

11. Joe Montana Niners XXIII 23-36 357 9.9 2td/0int 115.2 4/9 Win-Cin(-1.0)
-Two down, two to go for Joe. Hard to unring the bell that his performance also included a 90+ yard game winning drive. Poor quality of opponent sticks him below Rodgers. There are plenty who make reasonable arguments about someone not named Joe Montana as best quarterback of all time - but while none of those suspects, from Favre to Elway to Marino to Manning to Brady is found in the top 11, Joe's here three times.  

12 Nick Foles Eagles LII 28/43 373 8.7 3td/1int 106.1 (1td receiving) Win-NE (2.6)
-Foles wasn't just a backup quarterback, he was on the street prior to the season, but he replaced an injured Carson Wentz and led the Eagles to their first ever SB win.  He caught a touchdown pass and played a better defense than Warner or Brady from 51.  

13. Kurt Warner Rams XXXIV 24-46 414 9.0 2td/0int 97.6 1/1 Win-Tenn(-1.0)
-Did you know Warner was a bagboy at a grocery store? True story. An undercovered aspect of SB43 is that it matched two previous SB winning QB for the first time since SB 18 a quarter century prior, also in Tampa (Plunkett/Thiesmann).  

14. Tom Brady Patriots LI 43-62 466 7.5 2td/1 int 95.2 1/15 Win-Atl (-2)
 Other than the yardage, none of this is overwhelming, particularly considering the not that great opposing defense, but like Montana, he had the 90 yard end of game drive.

15. Tom Brady NE XLIX 37-50 328 6.6 4 td/2 int 101.1 2/-3 Win- Sea (7.7)
-The quality of the opposition gets Brady here, despite the two picks and the somewhat fortuitous victory.

16. Matt Ryan Falcons LI 17-23 284 12.3 2td/0int 144.1 Loss-NE (5)
-Just a great game, look at the yards/attempt, the passer rating - done against the best defense in the league.  If Atlanta wins I think he slots right behind Aikman's best game. 

17. Jake Delhomme Carol XXXVIII 16-33 323 10.1 3td/0int 117.1 0/0 Loss-NE (4.9)
-Jake Delhomme had an up and down career; he once threw for six picks in getting the Panthers bounced in the playoffs - but he's the best SB loser ever; 3 scores, a 10+ yds/attempt adding up to a 117+ QB rating. He outplayed Brady in what was (at that point) the best quarterbacked game in SB history. Losing is the only reason Delhomme doesn’t make the top 10.

18. Kurt Warner Ari XLIII 31-43 377 8.8 3 td/1int 112.3 0/0 Loss – Pit(8.2)
-Quality of the opponent makes this the second best ever losing performance (at that point). The key number here is the quality of the opponent; it's the best defense we've seen so far on the list and Warner had a 112.3 rating.

19. Tom Brady NE LII 28/48 505 10.5 3td/0int 115.4 1/6 (1 fumble) Loss - Phil (2.5)
-Brady's 8th SB (third loss) was this third best SB to that date.  Comparative quality of opposition slotted him behind the other top SM losing quarterbacks.

20. Roger Staubach Dall XII 17-25 183 7.3 1td/0int 102.6 3/6 Win-Den(9.4)
-There's a solid step down evident; under 200 yds passing, only 1 touchdown - but the quality of the Orange Crush defense, the best we've seen so far, is what takes what was just a good Staubach game up to the level of the 14th best overall game.  

21. Brett Favre GB XXXI 14-27 246 9.1 2td/0int 107.9 4/12(1td) Win-NE(.2)
-Some really similar games coming up; Favre has a solidly higher yds/attempt than Brees/Brady and added a rushing touchdown; that gets him this spot.  

22. Drew Brees NO XLIV 32-39 288 7.4 2td/0int 114.5 - Win – Indy(1.5)
-Brady and Brees have very similar games, Brees had a yardage advantage that outweighs Brady's quality of opponent.  Both are far behind Staubach for quality of opponent.

23. Tom Brady NE XXXIX 23-36 236 7.2 2td/0int 110.2 1/-1 Win-Phil(3.5)
-Brady's best game as of then.

24. Roger Staubach Dall VI 12-19 119 6.6 2td/0int 122.2 5/18 Win-Mia(5.3)
Staubach number two; here we get into a run of quarterbacks who didn't throw the ball very much.  Staubach only had 12 completions here, and even though he had the same 2 score/0 pick game as did everyone from Warner down, a 12 completion game/119 yard game is a little too leather helmet to be ranked higher than this.

25. Ken Stabler Oak XI 12-19 180 9.4 1td/0int 117.0 0/0 Win-Min(5.7)
-Does Stabler's extra yardage outweigh Staubach's extra TD pass?  I'm going to say not quite and rank them like this.  

26. Len Dawson KC IV 12-17 142 8.4 1td/1int 90.8 3/11 Win-Min(10.6)
-So, why does Dawson, the first QB on the list with a sub 100 rating and who didn't throw more scores than picks crack the top 20?  It's the quality of opponent - the People Eaters had the best ever SB defense and Dawson was solid in taking them out.  

27. Russell Wilson XLVIII 18-25 206 8.2 2 td/0int 123.1 3/26 Win-Den(-2.7)
-This is the worst defense for any QB in the top 50 SB performances, that's what drives Wilson below the other 2 TD/O INT games.  

28. Terry Bradshaw Pit X 9-19 209 11.0 2td/0int 122.5 4/16 Win-Dall(.1)
-It's quality of opponent that keeps Bradshaw out of that bottom end of the top 20.  

29. Tom Brady NE XXXVIII 32-48 354 7.5 3td/1int 102.6 2/12 Win-Car(.6)

Ton of yards for Brady but so against a run of the mill defense.

30. Jim McMahon Chi XX 12-20 256 12.8 0/td/0int 104.2 5/14(2td) Win-NE(3.8)
-He had no TD passes, but McMahon had two on the ground and almost 13 yds/attempt.  

31. Eli Manning NYG 46 30-40 298 7.4 1 td/0int 103.8 Win-NE(-.1)
The best Manning through 46 Super Bowls?  Eli in SB46.

32. Bart Starr GB I 16-23 250 10.9 2td/1int 116.2 0/0 Win-KC(1.2)
33 John Elway Den XXXIII 18-29 336 11.6 1td/1int 99.2 3/9(1td) Win-Atl(3.0)
34. Troy Aikman Dall XXX 15-23 209 9.1 1td/0int 108.8 4/-3 Win-Pit(1.2)

When adjusting for era, Starr gets closer to Brady than does he to Elway, and even with the pick, Elway's massive yard advantage sticks him ahead of Aikman.

35. Bob Griese Dolphins VIII 6-7 73 10.4 0td/0int 110.1 2/7 Win-Vikes(6.9)
36. Joe Namath NYJ III 17-28 7.4 206 83.3 0td/0 int 0/0 Win-Balt(9.9)
37. Roger Staubach Dall XIII 17-30 228 7.6 3td/1int 100.4 4/37 Loss-Pitt(5.6)

Some really good defenses; Staubach's got a 3TD game against a really good, not great, Steel Curtain - but he lost, of course. Griese's got the highest passer rating left on the list and the highest since Bradshaw, but you just can't rank a 6 completion/73 yard game higher than this.  Namath didn't throw a TD pass, playing a game manager in what was probably the most famous NFL performance to that date.

38. Joe Montana Niners XVI 14-22 157 7.1 1 td/0int 100.0 6/18 (1td) Win-Cincy (1.0)
39. Terry Bradshaw Pit IX 9-14 96 6.9 1td/0int 108 5/33 Win-Vikes(2.5)
40. Eli Manning, Giants XLII 19-34 255 7.4 2td/1int 87.3 2/4 Win-Pats(4.2)
41. Bart Starr GB II 13-24 202 8.4 1td/1 int 96.2 1/14 Win-Oak (5.5)
42. Jeff Hostetler NYG XXV 20-32 222 6.9 1td/0int 93.5 6/10 Win-Buff(2.9)
43. Jim Plunkett Raiders XVIII 16-25 172 6.9 1td/0int 97.4 Win-Skins(2.2)
44. Mark Rypien Skins XXVI 18-33 292 8.8 2td/1int 92.0 6/-4 Win-Buff(-4.1)
45. Terry Bradshaw Pit XIV 14-21 309 14.7 2td/3int 101.9 3/9 Win-Rams(.6)
46. Russell Wilson Sea XLIX 12-21 247 11.1 2 TD/1 Int 110.6 3/39 Loss-NE (3.5)
47. Brett Favre GB XXXII 25-42 256 6.1 3td/1int 91.0 0/0 Loss-Den(2.6)
48 Len Dawson KC I 16-27 211 7.8 1td/1int 80.9 3/24 Loss-GB (10.0)

The last 100 rated QBs, Joe gets the slight nod given the rushing touchdown and the extra yardage; the quality of opponent is what keeps them out of the top 30.  Eli's got more yards than both but threw a pick (note, still no Peyton, but both Elis).  Starr's got the best opponent in this entire section, other than Dawson down at 40, and he was playing Starr's group from the year previous.  Really similar lines from Hoss and Plunkett, the yardage advantage puts Hostetler slightly ahead.  They both are ahead of Rip because of the pick; Bradshaw's the first on the entire list to throw even 2 picks and he threw 3 which was more than he had touchdowns. But he also had the record for yards/attempt, and did what Favre didn't in the next spot, that's win the game. Wilson has the best QB rating in this group, and the most rushing yards, but threw the game losing pick.

Let's get past 50, as we cross over to the back half of performances...

49. John Elway Den XXI 22-37 304 8.2 1td/1int 83.6 6/27(1td) Loss-NYG(5.8)
50. Ken Anderson Cincy XVI 25-34 300 6.8 2td/2int 95.2 4/15(1td) Loss-Niners(4.9)
51. Tom Brady NE XXXVI 16-27 145 5.4 1td/0int 86.2 1/3 Win-Rams(2.9)
52. Peyton Manning Indy XLI 25-38 247 6.5 1td/1int 81.8 1/10 Win-Chi(3.0)
53. Bob Griese Dolphins VII 8-11 88 8.0 1td/1int 88.4 0/0 Win-Skins(3.7)
54. Trent Dilfer Balt XXXV 12-25 153 6.1 1td/0int 80.9 1/0 Win-NYG(3.8)
55. Brad Johnson TB XXXVII 18-34 215 6.3 2td/1int 79.9 1/10 Win-Oak(4.3)
56. Joe Theismann Wash XVII 15-23 143 6.2 2td/2int 75.1 3/20 Win-Miami(5.6)
57. Troy Aikman Dall XXVIII 19-27 207 7.7 0td/1int 77.2 2/2 Win-Buff(3.0)
58. Ben Roethlisberger Pit XLIII 21-30 256 8.5 1td/1int 93.2 2/4 Win-Cards(-.6.0)
59. Colin Kaepernick SF XLVII 16-28 302 10.8 1td/1int 91.7 7/62(1 td) Loss-Balt (1.0)

Two more losers start this group; Elway and Anderson both faced tough defenses, but not as tough as Dawson's as that's why the ordering is how it is.  Brady and Manning go back to back; Brady's mistake free game beats Manning's yardage advantage.  Griese and Dilfer are next as game managers, Griese is ahead due to era adjustment and Johnson's pick sticks him below both.  Thiesmann threw two picks, Aikman one and without a TD pass, but both go in ahead of Big Ben as he faced the worst defense in SB history.

Let's get near 90.

60. Fran Tarkenton Min VIII 18-28 182 6.5 0td/0int 67.1 4/17(1td) L-Mia (8.3)
61. Jim Kelly Buff XXV 18-30 212 7.1 0td/0int 81.5 6/23 L-NYG(7.6)
62. Roger Staubach Dall X 15-24 204 8.4 2td/2int 77.8 5/22 L-Pitt(8.8)
63. Peyton Manning Den XLVIII 34-49 280 5.7 1td/2int 73.5 1/0 L-Sea(8.9)
64. Steve McNair Titans XXXIV 22-36 214 5.9 0td/0int 77.8 8/64 Loss-Rams(3.2)
65. Daryle Lamonica Oak II 15-34 204 6.1 2td/1int 71.7 0/0 L-GB(6.3)
66. Tom Brady, Pats XLII 29-48 266 5.5 1td/0int 82.5 0/0 Loss-NYG(.4)
67. Tom Brady NE 46 27-41 276 6.7 2td/1int 91.1 Loss-NYG(-1.5)
68. Kurt Warner Rams XXXVI 28-44 365 8.3 1 td/2int 78.3 3/6(1td) Loss-NE(3.1)
69. Donovan McNabb Phi XXXIX 30-51 357 7.0 3td/3int 75.4 0/0 Loss-Pats(6.5)
70.  Ben Roethlisberger XLV 25-40 263 6.6 2td/2int 77.4 4/31 L-GB(7.9)
71. Matt Hasselbeck Sea XL 26-49 273 5.6 1TD/1Int 67.8 3/35 L-Pit(4.0)
72. John Elway Den XXXII 12-22 123 5.6 0td/1int 51.9 5/17(1td) Win-GB(2.4)
73. Johnny Unitas Colts V 3-9 88yds 9.8 1td/2int 68.1 1/4 Win-Dallas(4.5)
74. Peyton Manning Broncos L 13-23 141 yds 6.1 0td/1int 56.6 Win-Carolina (2.1)
75. Dan Marino Mia XIX 29-50 318 6.4 1td/2int 66.9 0/0 Loss-Niners(5.4)
76. Vince Ferragamo Rams XIV 15-25 212 8.5 0td/1int 70.7 1/7 L-Pit(5.1)
77. Ben Roethlisberger Pit XL 9-21 123yds 5.9 0td/2int 22.6 7/25(1 td) Win-Seattle(3.4)
78.  Peyton Manning Colts XLIV 31-45 333 7.4 1td/1int 88.5 Loss-Saints (-.5)
79. Jim Kelly Buff XXVIII 31-50 260 5.2 0td/1int 67.1 2/12 L-Dallas(4.7)
80. Joe Kapp Minn IV 16-25 183 7.3 0td/2int 52.6 2/9 L-KC(8.4)
81. Cam Newton Carol L 18-41 265 6.5 0td/1int 55.4 6/45 L-Den (5.5)
82. Bob Griese Miami VI 12-23 134yds 5.8 0td/1int 51.7 1/0 L-Dallas(1.6)
83. Boomer Esiason Cincy XXIII 11-25 144 yds 5.8 0td/1int 46.1 1/0 L-Niners(1.7)
84. Stan Humphries Chargers XXIX 24-49 275yds 5.6 1td/2int 56.1 1/3 L-Niners(1.7)
85. Joe Theismann Skins XVIII 16-35 243 yds 6.9 0td/2int 45.3 3/18 L-Raiders(1.7)
86. Fran Tarkenton Vikes XI 17-35 205yds 5.9 1td/2int 52.7 0/0 L-Oak(2.2)
87. Rex Grossman Chi XLI 20-28 165 5.9 1td/2int 68.3 2/0 L-Indy(-1.1)

The worst of the winners are right in the middle of this section; Elway was bad against a not particularly noteworthy defense; Unitas was worse, only three completions and two picks, Peyton capped off a bad Super Bowl career with his second win and worst game, add a lost fumble to those numbers, and then Ben, the worst SB winner, with a passer rating under 25.  

As for the rest, Tarkenton and Kelly were just fine as game managers losing to a terrific defense; Staubach faced the best defense in this entire section, but threw two picks; McNair's game looks a lot like Kelly's but against a lesser opponent; Lamonica's game's a lot like Staubach's and with one fewer picik, but against a lesser opponent; here are Brady's two losses to really pedestrian Giants' teams; Warner threw for a mountain of yards, but more picks than scores, against Brady; McNabb threw for almost as many yards, but 3 picks, in his loss to Brady; Ben had two picks, right behind him is the guy he beat five years previous, Hasselbeck; Marino's two pick only appearance on the list; a hundred fewer yards is why Ferragamo's next; and even with a high yardage total, a mediocre opponent puts Manning next; another Kelly game; Joe Kapp had no scores and two picks; there's Griese's bad Super Bowl; two of the Niners wins; two of the Raiders wins and then Rex against the worst defense in this section. Newton also lost two fumbles in a brutal Super Bowl debut.

Let's Finish - The Worst Starting QB Games in Super Bowl History

88. Ron Jaworski Eagles XV 18-38 291 yds 7.7 1td/3int 49.3 1/0 L-Raiders(1.3)
89. Neil O'Donnell Steelers XXX 28-49 239 yds 4.9 1td/3int 51.3 1/0 L-Dall(3.5)
90. John Elway Den XXII 14-38 257 yds 6.8 1td/3int 36.8 3/32 L-Skins(2.0)
91. Chris Chandler Falcons XXXIII 19-35 219 yds 6.3 1td/3int 47.2 4/30 L-Den(-.6)

One touchdown/3 picks - a popular way to wind up with one of the twenty worst games in SB history.

92. David Woodley Dolphins XVII 4-14 97 yds 6.9 1td/1int 50.0 4/16 L-Skins(5.2)
93. Jim Kelly Bills XXVII 4-7 82 yds 11.7 0td/2int 58.9 0/0 Loss-Dallas(3.5)

How about 4 completions with a pick?  Or in Kelly's case, two?  That's worth a bottom 15 slot.

94. Rich Gannon Oak XXXVII 24-44 272 yds 6.2 2td/5int 48.9 2/3 L-Bucs(9.8)
95. Drew Bledsoe Pats XXXI 25-48 243 yds 5.3 2td/4int 46.6 1/1 L-Pack(6.6)
96. Jim Kelly Bills XXVI 28-58 275yds 4.7 2td/4int 44.8 3/16 L-Skins(4.9)

Or a truckload of interceptions; 4 apiece for Bledsoe and Kelly; 5 for Gannon against an all time Buc defense.

97. Billy Kilmer Redskins VII 14-28 104yds 3.7 0td/3int 19.6 2/18 L-Miami(6.5)
98. John Elway Den XXIV 10-26 108yds 4.2 0td/2int 19.4 4/8 (1 td) L-Niners(4.9)
99. Tony Eason Pats XX 0-6 0yds 0.0 0td/0int 39.6 0/0 Loss-Bears(9.4)

100. Fran Tarkenton Vikes IX 11-26 102yds 3.9 0td/3int 14.1 1/10 Loss-Steelers(4.5)
101. Kerry Collins Giants XXXV 15-39 112yds 2.9 0td/4int 7.1 3/12 L-Baltimore(8.0)

No touchdowns and 12 picks in this section.  Kilmer/Elway/Tarkenton all with passer ratings under 20; Eason's was higher even though he didn't complete a pass; and Kerry Collins threw four picks against a tough Ravens defense.

102. Craig Morton- Dall V 12-26 127yds 4.9 1td/3int 34.1 1/2 L-Colts(-.5)
103. Earl Morrall Colts III 6-17 71yds 4.2 0TD/3Int 9.3 2/-2 Loss-Jets(.8)

Why is Morton here instead of ten spots higher with the other 1 td/3 pick games?  The Colts did not have a good defense, and he had a hundred fewer yards passing than did Chandler.  Morrall comes a zero touchdown/multiple pick game with a sub 10 completion game, with a game against mediocre opposition.

And Now - the Worst Quarterbacked Performance in SB History...

104. Craig Morton Broncos XII 4-15 39yds 2.6 0TD/4Int 0.0 0/0 Loss-Dallas(.2)

So you're Craig Morton and 7 years after your 3 pick Super Bowl V you're back in the title game against your old team, the Cowboys - and you put up a 0.0 QB rating. Roll the Animal House clip in your head.

Zero Point Zero.

No matter how pessimistic, there was no scenario he ever conjured that had him playing that poorly.

Every 49ers Offensive Play in Super Bowl History-Super Bowl 29

Monday, January 28, 2013

                        SUPER BOWL 29

San Francisco (15:00)
Carter 9 San Diego penalized 15 for personal foul–facemask
SF 41
Floyd 4
SF 45
S. Young 11 Taylor
SD 44
S. Young 44  Rice TOUCHDOWN(13:36). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 59 yards, 3 plays, 1:24.
San Francisco 7, San Diego 0

90 second in - and we're up a touchdown.

San Diego (13:36)
Brien kick to SD 10,

(Following punt)

San Francisco (11:58)
SF 21
Watters 1
SF 22
S. Young 6 Floyd
SF 28
S. Young 21
SF 49
S. Young 51 Watters TOUCHDOWN (10:05). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 79 yards, 4 plays, 1:53.
San Francisco 14, San Diego 0

Five minutes in - we're up two touchdowns.

San Diego (10:05)
Brien kick 2 yards into end zone

San Diego scoring drive: 78 yards, 13 plays, 7:21. Means 1
San Francisco 14, San Diego 7
San Francisco (2:44)
Carter 18
SF 30
S. Young 19 Rice
SF 49
Rice 10
SD 41
S. Young incomplete.
SD 41
S. Young 12 Taylor
SD 29
Watters - 1
SD 30
S. Young 15

San Francisco 14, San Diego 7

SD 15
S. Young 3 Rice
SD 12
San Diego penalized 5 for offsides
SD 7
Floyd 1
SD 6
S. Young 1
SD 5
S. Young 5  Floyd TOUCHDOWN (13:02). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 70 yards, 10 plays, 4:42.
San Francisco 21, San Diego 7

San Diego (13:02)
Brien kick 1 yard into end zone,

(Following punt, Carter 1)

San Francisco (11:30)
SF 44
S. Young  incomplete.
SF 44
S. Young 5 McCaffrey
SF 49
S. Young  incomplete.
SF 49
Wilmsmeyer 33
San Diego (10:30)

(Following punt)

San Francisco (9:35)
SD 49
Floyd 3
SD 46
S. Young 8 Jones
SD 38
S. Young  incomplete.
SD 38
S. Young 11 Rice
SD 27
S. Young 4  Taylor
SD 23
S. Young 8 Rice
SD 15
Floyd 6
SD 9
Watters 1
SD 8
S. Young 8 Watters  TOUCHDOWN (4:44). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 49 yards, 9 plays, 4:51.
San Francisco 28, San Diego 7

Up 3 scores.  Game's over before halftime.  

San Diego (4:44)
Brien kick to SD 5,

San Diego scoring drive: 62 yards, 7 plays, 3:00. Carney 31 FG
San Francisco 28, San Diego 10
San Francisco (1:44)
Carter 11 return
SF 23
S. Young 33 Jones
SD 44
S. Young 6 Floyd
SD 38
S. Young 5  Rice
SD 33
Watters 4
SD 29
S. Young  incomplete.
SD 29
S. Young incomplete..
SD 29
Brien missed FG

(After interception, Davis)

San Francisco (:10)
SF 20
Young knelt down, loss of 1.

San Francisco 28, San Diego 10

San Diego (15:00)
Brien kick to SD 2

(Following punt, Carter 11)

San Francisco (13:20)
SF 38
S. Young 16  Rice
SD 46
Watters 1
SD 45
S. Young -8
SF 47
S. Young 21  Rice
SD 32
S. Young 16 Taylor
SD 16
Watters 2
SD 14
 San Diego penalized 5 for offsides
SD 9
Watters 9 TOUCHDOWN (9:35). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 62 yards, 7 plays, 3:45.
San Francisco 35, San Diego 10

San Diego (9:35)
Brien kick to SD 4

(Turned over on downs). The Chargers are going for it already, halfway through the third quarter.  

San Francisco (7:25)
SF 33
S. Young 9 Floyd
SF 42
Floyd 2
SF 44
S. Young incomplete.
SF 44
S. Young -4
SF 40
 San Diego penalized 22 for pass interference
SD 38
Watters 13
SD 25
Watters 0
SD 25
S. Young 13
SD 12
Watters -3
SD 15
S. Young  incomplete
SD 15
S. Young 15  Rice TOUCHDOWN (3:18). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 67 yards, 10 plays, 4:07.
San Francisco 42, San Diego 10

Jerry's got a couple of second half touchdowns to score.  

San Diego (3:18)
Brien kick to SD 2, Coleman 98 return  touchdown (3:01). Humphries to Seay for 2–point conversion.

San Diego scoring drive: 98–yard kickoff return, :17.
San Francisco 42, San Diego 18

San Francisco (3:01)
 Carter 10 return
SF 28
S. Young  incomplete.
SF 28
S. Young -3
SF 25
S. Young 2  Watters
SF 27
Wilmsmeyer 45 punt,
San Diego (1:22)

(Turned over on downs)

San Francisco (:08)

SD 32
S. Young incomplete.
SD 32
Watters 8

San Francisco 42, San Diego 18

SD 24
Watters 13
SD 11
Watters 4
SD 7
S. Young  incomplete.
SD 7
S. Young 7 Rice TOUCHDOWN(13:49). Brien extra point.

San Francisco scoring drive: 32 yards, 6 plays, 1:19.
San Francisco 49, San Diego 18
San Diego (13:49)
Brien kick to SD 12

(After interception, Sanders 15)

Deion gets a 4th quarter pick.

San Francisco (9:41)
SF 14
Floyd 6
SF 20
Floyd 5
SF 25
Floyd 0
SF 25
Watters -3
SF 22
S. Young incomplete.
SF 22
Wilmsmeyer 46 punt
San Diego (6:47)

(After interception, Cook 1)

San Francisco (6:08)
SF 28
Watters -2
SF 26
Floyd 5
SF 31
Grbac incomplete.
SF 31
Wilmsmeyer 37 punt,

San Diego scoring drive: 67 yards, 8 plays, 1:56. Humphries 30 Martin. Humphries 2 Pupunu
San Francisco 49, San Diego 26
San Francisco (2:25)
McCaffrey covered onside kick
SD 38
Carter -6
SF 47
Carter 1.
SF 48
Musgrave 6 Popson
SD 46
Wilmsmeyer 38 punt,

Name the Niner quarterback who wasn't Montana or Young with a SB completion?  
Bill Musgrave.  


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