In the lead up to Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, The Sports Daily will be remembering some of the most iconic moments and players from Super Bowl history.
Our series continues with the best quarterback performances in the NFL’s biggest game:
Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl XXIX)
Young threw a Super Bowl record six touchdowns, including one on each of San Francisco’s first four possessions in the first half, as the 49ers routed the San Diego Chargers in January of 1995. He completed 24 of his 36 passes for 325 yards, while also leading the game with 49 yards rushing. Overall, the 49ers scored 49 points on seven total touchdowns and gained 455 total yards. Jerry Rice caught half of the touchdowns thrown by Young, who was named Super Bowl MVP.
Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl XXXIV)
Super Bowl XXXIV is remembered mostly for the game’s final play, when Kevin Dyson was stopped a yard short of the goal line with the Titans down seven points. But it also featured a hugely productive game from Warner, who completed 24 passes for a Super Bowl record 414 passing yards. He hit Torry Holt for a 9-yard touchdown to put the Rams up 16 points in the second half, and he later delivered the go-ahead score after Tennessee tied the game in the fourth quarter. With 1:54 left, Warner connected with Isaac Bruce on the 73-yard touchdown—now ninth longest passing play in Super Bowl history. He was named Super Bowl MVP.
Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl XXIV)
The most lopsided Super Bowl in history was also the setting for one of the game’s greatest quarterback performances. Montana led the 49ers to a 55-10 win, completing 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards and five touchdowns—then a Super Bowl record. His 75.9 completion percentage still ranks third in the game’s history. The 49ers dominated from start to finish, scoring on six of their first eight possessions—while gaining 461 total yards and holding the football for almost 40 minutes. The architect of it all, Montana was an easy pick for MVP.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Super Bowl XLIX)
Facing the most dominant defense of a generation, Brady led the Patriots back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Seattle Seahawks. He orchestrated scoring drives of 68 and 64 yards over the final 12 minutes, with his 3-yard touchdown to Julian Edelman with 2:02 left representing the winning score. Overall, Brady completed a Super Bowl record 37 passes, including four touchdowns (third most ever). Malcolm Butler’s interception at the goal line secured the win and ensured Brady’s heroics would live on in Super Bowl lore.
Phil Simms, New York Giants (Super Bowl XXI)
No quarterback has ever produced a higher completion percentage or passer rating in a Super Bowl than Simms, who completed 88 percent of his 25 attempts with a 150.1 passer rating during New York’s 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos. He twice gave the Giants a lead on a touchdown pass, before his third and final score put away the Broncos early in the fourth quarter. Like all the other quarterbacks on this list, Simms was named Super Bowl MVP.
Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl XXVII)
Aikman was the triggerman for one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history. The Cowboys quarterback tossed four touchdowns, including three in the first half, as Dallas obliterated the Buffalo Bills, 52-17, during the first of the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl wins over the four-year span. Aikman hit tight end Jay Novacek for a score to counter Buffalo’s first quarter touchdown, and his two touchdown strikes to Michael Irvin in the second quarter gave Dallas a 28-10 lead at the half. He later connected with Alvin Harper for the dagger touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Overall, Aikman completed 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. His 140.7 passer rating ranks fourth all-time.
Doug Williams, Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXII)
The first African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl, Williams produced the most scintillating quarter of play in the game’s history. After falling behind the Denver Broncos by a 10-0 score after one quarter, the Redskins erupted in the second, scoring 35 points on five touchdowns to turn a 10-point deficit into a 25-point advantage at half time. Williams threw four of the five scores, including touchdowns of 80 and 50 yards to receiver Ricky Sanders. Washington amassed 602 total yards and eventually won the contest by a 42-10 score. Williams finished with 340 yards and four touchdowns on 18 completions, with a passer rating of 122.9.
Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl XIII)
Bradshaw used his third Super Bowl appearance to chew up the Dallas Cowboys’ defense, which finished the 1978 season ranked third in points allowed. He threw a then record four touchdown passes, including strikes of 28 and 75 yards to John Stallworth, as the Steelers beat the Cowboys by a 35-31 final. Bradshaw’s final touchdown pass—a 18-yard score to Lynn Swann—gave Pittsburgh a 35-17 cushion, which ended up being significant after Roger Staubach led a late rally. At the time, Bradshaw’s 318 passing yards were also a Super Bowl record.
– Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (Super Bowl XLIV): Brees competed 32 of 39 passes (82.1 percent, second-best in Super Bowl history) with two touchdowns as the Saints dispatched Peyton Manning and the Colts.
– Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl XIX): Montana threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns for the 49ers, who beat the Dolphins and finished the 1984 season with a 18-1 record.
– Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl XLIII): His Cardinals lost, and he threw a game-changing pick-six before the half, but Warner also completed 31 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns, including a go-ahead score to Larry Fitzgerald with 2:37 left.
– Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl XXIII): He capped off another brilliant Super Bowl performance (357 yards, two touchdowns) with his legendary 10-yard score to John Taylor with 34 seconds left, giving the 49ers a dramatic win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
– Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Super Bowl XXXVIII): Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, while also leading the Patriots into position for Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field with four seconds left.
– Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (Super Bowl XXXI): Favre threw a 54-yard touchdown on the game’s second play from scrimmage, set a then Super Bowl record with an 81-yard score to Antonio Freeman and rushed for a touchdown as the Packers beat the Patriots.
– Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl XV): Plunkett completed only 13 passes, but the connections netted 261 yards and produced three touchdowns for the Raiders, who took down the Eagles by 17 points.