Pittsburgh's postseason quarterbacks

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 26, 2009



Pittsburgh has made 25 postseason appearances in its history, giving us a long an illustrious playoff history from which to crunch the numbers. Naturally, the teams that had the most success have benefitted from the best quarterbacking play.
 
The most impressive part of Pittsburgh's playoff history is that 24 of those 25 appearances have come since 1972. In their first 39 NFL seasons, Pittsburgh boasted just one playoff team, losing to the Eagles in an Eastern Division tie-breaker in 1947. (Those Eagles went on to lose to the Cardinals in that franchise's only championship game victory.) In their last 37 seasons, Pittsburgh has boasted 24 playoff teams.
 
Here's how Pittsburgh's starting quarterbacks stack up in all of those postseasons, ranked by playoff passer rating. We did not include the performances of backup quarterbacks who made token appearances in Steelers playoff games.
 
A few things jump out from the list:
 
ONE - QB play means everything
We had to keep beating the same drum, but almost any time you see winning teams, you see great QB play. The top two playoff passing seasons in Steelers history (Bradshaw in 1978 and Roethlisberger in 2005) resulted in Super Bowl victories. Four of the top six season playoff passing seasons resulted in Super Bowl victories. Roethlisberger, meanwhile, is widely criticized for his poor passing performance in Pittsburgh's 2005 championship run. But, over the course of his four playoff games that year, his cumulative passer rating was an impressive 101.7, the second-best postseason performance in Pittsburgh playoff history (he entered Super Bowl XL that year with an awesome 128.4 passer rating through the first three games).
 
TWO - Terry Bradshaw was a big-game God
In the list of Top 10 all-time Super Bowl performances by quarterbacks we pieced together for Sports Illustrated this week, Bradshaw's outing against Dallas in Super Bowl XIII earned the No. 2 spot, behind only Joe Montana in Super Bowl XXIV. But you look here and you consistently see great postseason stat lines from Bradshaw. It's remarkable, because Bradshaw was such a middling (and sometimes downright bad) in the regular season.
 
THREE - Roethlisberger needs a big game against Arizona
With a great game in the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger's 2008 postseason can jump up into to the top five in franchise history.
 
These numbers below cover every playoff game in Pittsburgh history except for the 21-0 loss to the Eagles in 1947 mentioned above. Basically, we don't have a box score for that game. But we do know that the Steelers gained just 52 yards through the air. So it was a rather statistically insignificant game and doesn't effect the findings highlighted below. 
 
Pittsburgh's Postseason Quarterbacks
(players in bold won SB; players in italics reached SB)
QB
Year
Games
Comp.
Att.
Yards
TD
INT
Rating
Bradshaw
1978
3
44
78
790
8
4
104.1
Roethlisberger
2005
4
58
93
803
7
3
101.7
O'Donnell
1993
1
23
42
286
3
0
99.9
Bradshaw
1979
3
53
82
758
6
4
98.5
O'Donnell
1994
2
48
77
535
3
0
96.0
Bradshaw
1974
3
29
50
394
3
1
94.9
Bradshaw
1982
1
28
39
325
2
2
92.4
Bradshaw
1976
2
28
53
440
3
1
91.7
Roethlisberger
2008
2
33
59
436
2
0
90.8
Malone
1984
2
37
64
536
4
3
86.5
Maddox
2002
2
51
89
633
5
3
84.2
Roethlisberger
2007
1
29
42
337
2
3
79.2
Stoudt
1983
1
10
20
187
1
1
78.5
Brister
1989
2
34
62
356
1
0
77.1
Bradshaw
1975
3
32
57
527
3
5
68.4
O'Donnell
1995
3
72
125
706
3
6
61.6
Roethlisberger
2004
2
31
54
407
3
5
61.3
Bradshaw
1973
1
12
25
167
2
3
57.0
Stewart
2001
2
36
64
409
1
4
54.8
Bradshaw
1972
2
16
35
255
1
3
44.3
Stewart   
1997
2
32
67
335
1
4
42.8
Tomczak
1996
2
29
50
286
0
4
40.9
Bradshaw
1977
1
19
37
177
1
3
40.0
O'Donnell
1992
1
15
29
163
0
2
39.9

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