Brees-Manning: the sexy perfume of pigskin

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 25, 2010



The otherwise passionless Cold, Hard Football Facts are engaged in a tawdry love affair with quarterbacks (at least those who don't hijack their team's hopes year after year with critical picks in the playoffs).
 
More specifically, we're in love with stats and data and numbers – and quarterbacks are awash in more of them than any other players at any other position. So it's kind of an affair-by-default: we're smitten by the intoxicating pigskin perfume of statistics that surround quarterbacks, not necessarily the players themselves.
 
We're hardly alone: quarterbacks generate all the attention, especially here at Super Bowl time.
 
And Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning shapes up as a refreshing body wash  of success: Brees was the highest rated passer in the NFL in 2009 and set a single-season record for accuracy (70.62%); Manning is on pace to become the all-time record holder in everything. In fact, our instant instinct was that this would be the greatest clash of high-powered quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. So we ran the numbers.
 
Actually, it's close. But it doesn't quite top the list. That honor goes to a game a quarter century ago that even the most devout Saints and Colts fans must admit was a shade ahead of Brees-Manning. That game, of course, was the showdown between Joe Montana and his 15-1 49ers vs. Dan Marino and his 14-2 Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX.
 
That's not just the booze talking, either. It's the irrefutable declaration of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, as well. We compiled the passer ratings of every starting Super Bowl quarterback in history to determine the greatest match-up of gunslingers in the history of America's Game (the chart appears below).
 
Montana-Marino tops the list – but only by margin so thin that our otherwise well-perfumed girlfriends could shave their mustaches with it. Montana (102.9) and Marino (108.9) entered Super Bowl XIX after regular seasons in which they averaged a 105.9 passer rating.
 
Brees (109.6) and Manning (99.9) boast an average passer rating of 104.8. It's a match-up for the ages. It will deserve the hype that it will continue to generate over the next 12 days. But it falls just shy of the standards set by the Montana and Marino shootout, each of whom were at or nearing the height of their statistical powers in 1984.
 
One other QB tandem shockingly deserves mention as the greatest pairing of gunslingers in Super Bowl history: Green Bay's Bart Starr and Kansas City's Len Dawson, who met in the very first Super Bowl back in January 1967.
 
Starr, who Cold, Hard Football Facts readers know is the greatest quarterback of all time, entered Super Bowl I with an NFL-best 105.0 passer rating, the highest mark of his Hall of Fame career. Dawson entered Super Bowl I with an AFL-best 101.7 passer rating, also the highest mark of his Hall of Fame career.
 
Other than the Montana-Marino meeting 18 years later, Starr-Dawson is the only Super Bowl match-up in which each quarterback boasted a passer rating of better than 100.
 
The fact that these quarterbacks produced these marks in the mid-1960s, a virtual Stone Age of passing offense compared with the inflated passing stats of the 2000s, makes Starr-Dawson in Super Bowl I one of the greatest and most improbable statistical match-ups in the history of football.
 
Imagine if the Super Bowl back then produced the same kind of nationwide multimedia hype that we will get out of Brees-Manning here in Super Bowl XLIV.
 
QBs in SUPER BOWLS ranked by average passer rating
(league passer rating leaders in bold)

Year

SB

QB

Rating

QB

Rating

Avg

1984

19

Joe Montana, SF

102.9

Dan Marino, MIA

108.9

105.9

2009

44

Drew Brees, NO

109.6

Peyton Manning, IND

99.9

104.75

1966

1

Bart Starr, GB

105.0

Len Dawson, KC

101.7

103.35

2004

39

Tom Brady, NE

92.6

Donovan McNabb, PHI

104.7

98.65

2005

40

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

98.6

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA

98.2

98.4

1971

6

Roger Staubach, DAL

104.8

Bob Griese, MIA

90.9

97.85

1991

26

Mark Rypien, WAS

97.9

Jim Kelly, BUF

97.6

97.75

1994

29

Steve Young, SF

112.8

Stan Humphries, SD

81.6

97.2

1998

33

John Elway, DEN

93.0

Chris Chandler, ATL

100.9

96.95

1976

11

Ken Stabler, OAK

103.4

Fran Tarkenton, MIN

89.3

96.35

2007

42

Eli Manning, NYG

73.9

Tom Brady, NE

117.2

95.55

2002

37

Brad Johnson, TB

92.9

Rich Gannon, OAK

97.3

95.1

2001

36

Tom Brady, NE

86.5

Kurt Warner, STL

101.4

93.95

1999

34

Kurt Warner, STL

109.2

Steve McNair, TEN

78.6

93.9

1981

16

Joe Montana, SF

88.4

Ken Anderson, CIN

98.4

93.4

1989

24

Joe Montana, SF

112.4

John Elway, DEN

73.7

93.05

1988

23

Joe Montana, SF

87.9

Boomer Esiason, CIN

97.4

92.65

1990

25

Jeff Hostetler, NYG

83.2

Jim Kelly, BUF

101.2

92.2

1995

30

Troy Aikman, DAL

93.6

Neil O'Donnell, PIT

87.7

90.65

1997

32

John Elway, DEN

87.5

Brett Favre, GB

92.6

90.05

1983

18

Jim Plunkett, LAR

82.7

Joe Theismann, WAS

97.0

89.85

1996

31

Brett Favre, GB

95.8

Drew Bledsoe, NE

83.7

89.75

1993

28

Troy Aikman, DAL

99.0

Jim Kelly, BUF

79.9

89.45

1973

8

Bob Griese, MIA

84.3

Fran Tarkenton, MIN

93.2

88.75

1987

22

Doug Williams, WAS

94.0

John Elway, DEN

83.4

88.7

2008

43

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

80.1

Kurt Warner, STL

96.9

88.5

2006

41

Peyton Manning, IND

101.0

Rex Grossman, CHI

73.9

87.45

1992

27

Troy Aikman, DAL

89.5

Jim Kelly, BUF

81.2

85.35

1978

13

Terry Bradshaw, PIT

84.7

Roger Staubach, DAL

84.9

84.8

1977

12

Roger Staubach, DAL

87.0

Craig Morton, DEN

82.0

84.5

1975

10

Terry Bradshaw, PIT

88.0

Roger Staubach, DAL

78.5

83.25

2003

38

Tom Brady, NE

85.9

Jake Delhomme, CAR

80.6

83.25

1968

3

Joe Namath, NYJ

72.1

Earl Morrall, BAL

93.2

82.65

1980

15

Jim Plunkett, OAK

72.9

Ron Jaworski, PHI

91.0

81.95

2000

35

Trent Dilfer, BAL

76.6

Kerry Collins, NYG

83.1

79.85

1972

7

Bob Griese, MIA

71.6

Billy Kilmer, WAS

84.8

78.2

1970

5

Johnny Unitas, BAL

65.1

Craig Morton, DAL

89.8

77.45

1982

17

Joe Thiesmann, WAS

91.3

David Woodley, MIA

63.5

77.4

1986

21

Phil Simms, NYG

74.6

John Elway, DEN

79.0

76.8

1985

20

Jim McMahon, CHI

82.6

Tony Eason, NE

67.5

75.05

1969

4

Len Dawson, KC

69.9

Joe Kapp, MIN

78.5

74.2

1967

2

Bart Starr, GB

64.4

Daryle Lamonica, OAK

80.8

72.6

1974

9

Terry Bradshaw, PIT

55.2

Fran Tarkenton, MIN

82.1

68.65

1979

14

Terry Bradshaw, PIT

77.0

Vince Ferragamo, RAM

49.0

63


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