Most quarterbacks probably wouldn’t mind being on a list of the worst Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks because it would mean they own a Super Bowl ring. It’s kind of like being the ugliest Miss America or the flabbiest Mr. Universe.
Only 31 quarterbacks have won Super Bowls. Ten of them are in the Hall of Fame and at least a couple more will follow, perhaps even one or two on this list. This is such an elite group that a quarterback can be among the worst and still be pretty good.
That said, there are some middling quarterbacks who have touched the Lombardi Trophy. The higher they’re ranked on this list, the worse they are.
No. 8: Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is better than some of the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks not on this list, and in Super Bowl XLIII he authored one of the most memorable game-winning drives in Super Bowl history. However, this list wouldn’t be complete without him because three years earlier he posted the lowest rating of any Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Roethlisberger completed 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards and two interceptions, churning out a 22.6 rating in the Steelers’ 21-10 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
The Steelers did throw a touchdown pass in that game, but it was wide receiver Antwaan Randle El who threw it to Hines Ward for 43 yards to give the Steelers a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
Roethlisberger, then in his second season, did run for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead late in the first half. But it was one of the many disputed calls in that game over which Seahawks fans cry in their Starbucks to this day.
No. 7: Joe Flacco
Being a Super Bowl MVP, as Joe Flacco was in Super Bowl XLVII, doesn’t excuse a player from this list. The quarterback’s overall career is factored in.
Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Ravens to a 34-31 win over the 49ers. But in his career he’s never ranked more than 10th in the league in passing touchdowns. He’s also thrown at least 10 interceptions every year.
There’s still time for Flacco to improve his body of work and play his way off this list.
No. 6: Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson was named to the Pro Bowl twice, the second time coming in 2002 when he led the Buccaneers to their only championship.
Johnson threw 22 touchdown passes and only six interceptions in 2002 and he threw two touchdown passes in the Buccaneers’ 48-21 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. A year later he was third in the NFL with 26 touchdown passes and fifth with 3,811 passing yards. Johnson played for 15 seasons and his career passer rating of 82.5 was better than Troy Aikman and Ken Anderson.
However, defense was the driving force behind Tampa Bay’s 2002 championship. The Buccaneers allowed 196 points that year, two less than the storied 1985 Bears.
While not to the extreme of another quarterback on this list, Johnson will forever be associated with that early 2000s era in which teams could win a Super Bowl with an elite defense and a so-so quarterback.
No. 5: Jeff Hostetler
Jeff Hostetler always will hold a special place in Giants history.
Pressed into starting duty when Phil Simms broke his foot in Week 15 of the 1990 season, Hostetler led the Giants to wins in their last two regular-season games and continued that streak through Super Bowl XXV when the Giants edged the Bills 20-19.
Hostetler threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in those three postseason games. He completed 20 of 32 passes with a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
According to Giants.com, Super Bowl XXV was Hostetler’s seventh career start. That’s a record low for a quarterback starting in the Super Bowl.
Although he ended up being a serviceable quarterback, making the Pro Bowl with the Raiders in 1994, Hostetler gets on this list because he was a backup at the time he won his Super Bowl.
No. 4: Jim McMahon
Jim McMahon wouldn’t make any list of the dullest Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. He infamously mooned a helicopter at practice during the week leading up to Super Bowl XX.
The outspoken McMahon, with his trademark sunglasses, was the rock star quarterback of the swashbuckling 1985 Bears. He made the Pro Bowl with 15 touchdown passes in 1985, but he never threw more than 12 touchdown passes in any other season of his injury-plagued career.
The ’85 Bears won the championship with their famed defense, annihilating the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl. McMahon ran for two touchdowns in the game. But as feared as that team was, that was the only Super Bowl the Bears have won. Part of the reason for that is because McMahon threw three interceptions when the Redskins stunned the Bears 21-17 in the NFC divisional playoffs the following year at Soldier Field.
McMahon ended up playing with six different teams, winning the 1991 Comeback Player of the Year Award with the Eagles, and finished his career as Brett Favre’s backup with the Packers in 1996.
No. 3: Mark Rypien
Mark Rypien threw two touchdown passes and earned MVP honors in the Redskins’ 37-24 win over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.
Rypien made the Pro Bowl in 1989 and 1991, the Redskins’ championship season. However, he had the luxury of playing behind an offensive line that gave him time to knit a sweater before throwing the ball. Rypien was sacked seven times in 1991, the fewest for a quarterback playing a 16-game season, and he threw a career-high 28 touchdown passes. He never came close to that production again.
In 1992 Rypien was sacked 23 times, still decent protection, but he threw 13 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. He went 3-7 as a starter in 1993 and played for three more teams through 1997. He played four games in a comeback attempt with the Colts in 2001.
No. 2: Doug Williams
Doug Williams was the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, leading the Redskins to a 42-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
Williams threw four touchdown passes, all in the second quarter, and was named MVP. However, he completed less than half of his passes in the Redskins’ two playoff wins.
Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. Williams was the second of those three. He overtook the immortal Jay Schroeder as the starting quarterback in the middle of the 1987 season but lost his only two regular-season starts.
In his career, Williams was 38-42-1 as a starter. His career passer rating was 69.4, the same as Joey Harrington.
No. 1: Trent Dilfer
Trent Dilfer might as well have worn a smock and a nametag in Super Bowl XXXV, because when it comes to Super Bowl quarterbacks he was the quintessential game manager.
Dilfer went 7-1 as a starter in the last eight games of the 2000 regular season, but it’s easy to win games when the defense allows less than 10 points a game. The Ravens allowed 165 points that year, a record for a 16-game season, and yielded just 23 points in four postseason games while Dilfer completed just 47.9 percent of his passes.
Drafted sixth overall by the Buccaneers in 1994, Dilfer played 13 unspectacular seasons in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in 1997 when he threw a career-high 21 touchdown passes.
Dilfer followed up his championship season by becoming a backup quarterback for the Seahawks over the next four years and finished his career with the Browns in 2005 and the 49ers in 2007. He threw 113 touchdowns, 129 interceptions and completed just 55.5 percent of his career passes.