The Super Bowl Gimps

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 29, 2008



THE GIMPS
The five players on our Gimp list include three Hall of Fame quarterbacks and the only two quarterbacks to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl. It also includes the worst Super Bowl performers in NFL history, quarterbacks who routinely hobbled around like crippled hunchbacks in the biggest game of the year. The Gimps went 1-10 in Super Bowl play and even that record is deceiving. The lone victory came in a game that pitted two Gimps against a third one, Super Bowl V. The three quarterbacks combined for six interceptions in a game that featured 11 total turnovers and was ulitmately decided by a late INT that set up a game-winning field goal. Their career Super Bowl passer ratings range from 20.0 to 56.9.
 
Jim Kelly, Buffalo
Games – 4 (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII)
Wins – 0
 
Overview: Kelly resurrected the moribund Buffalo franchise when he arrived in 1986 after two seasons in the USFL. He quickly established himself as one of the most prolific passers in the history of the game, leading Buffalo's high-tempo, no-huddle K-Gun offense with great success. But he was a complete dud in the Super Bowl. He was picked off seven times in just 145 Super Bowl pass attempts, including four INTs in a 37-24 loss to Washington in Super Bowl XXVI (when he was shown up by journeyman QB Mark Rypien, the game's MVP). His two TD passes that day came in fourth-quarter garbage time, after Washington held a 37-10 lead. The next year he was knocked silly by Dallas in Super Bowl XXVII and was forced out of the game in the second quarter of a humiliating 52-17 loss. Kelly is the only quarterback to lead his team to four straight Super Bowls. He's also the only QB to lose four Super Bowl games.
 
Signature moment: Buffalo's Scott Norwood missed a 47-yeard field goal with seconds remaining in Super Bowl XXV. A successful kick would have given the Bills a win in their first Super Bowl appearance and, even with losses in the next three games, it would have spared the franchise, the city of Buffalo and the quarterback himself from wearing the enduring tag of big-game losers.
 
Super Bowl
Comp.
Att.
Pct.
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rating
Result
XXV
18
30
60.0
212
0
0
81.5
L 20-19
XXVI
28
58
48.3
275
2
4
44.8
L 37-24
XXVII
4
7
57.1
82
0
2
58.9
L 52-17
XXVIII
31
50
62.0
260
0
1
67.1
L 30-13
TOTALS
81
145
55.9
829
2
7
56.9
0-4
 
***
 
Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota
Games – 3 (VIII, IX, XI)
Wins – 0
 
Overview: No quarterback routinely led better teams in the regular season. No quarterback routinely played with better defenses. No quarterback of his era was more prolific in the passing game. No quarterback routinely imploded so badly on Super Bowl Sunday. When Tarkenton retired in 1978 after 18 years in the league, he was the NFL's all-time leader in attempts (6,487), completions (3,668), passing yards (47,003), and TD passes (342). He was also one of the best running QBs in modern NFL history, rushing for 3,674 yards in his career. But more than any other quarterback in Super Bowl history, Tarkenton shows us that there is sometimes a startling gap between a player's regular-season production and his Super Bowl production.
 
The signature moment: In one of the most replayed moments in Super Bowl history, Tarkenton threw an INT in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XI that was returned 75 yards for a TD by Oakland defensive back Willie Brown. The score gave Oakland a 32-7 lead (Minnesota backup QB Bob Lee threw a late TD pass) and was Tarkenton's sixth INT (as compared to just 1 TD pass) in three Super Bowl games.
 
Super Bowl
Comp.
Att.
Pct.
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rating
Result
VIII
18
28
64.3
182
0
1
67.9
L 24-7
IX
11
26
42.3
102
0
3
14.1
L 16-6
XI
17
35
48.6
205
1
2
52.7
L 32-14
TOTALS
46
89
51.7
489
1
6
43.7
0-3
 
***
 
Johnny Unitas, Baltimore
Games – 2 (III, V)
Wins – 1 (V)
 
Overview: Johnny Unitas may very well be the greatest quarterback of all time. He led the Colts to two straight titles in 1958 and 1959 and, in an era of defensive dominance, put up gaudy statistics that would have earned him Pro Bowl status even by modern standards. But in 1968, Unitas was 34 years old, in his 13th season and returning from a season-long injury by the time he got his first Super Bowl opportunity. He simply did not play well in either Super Bowl III or Super Bowl V. He replaced starter Earl Morrall in the second half of Super Bowl III after the Baltimore offense had been stagnant. The Colts trailed 16-0 by the time Unitas got into the game. He led Baltimore to its only score but also threw an INT that stifled any hopes of a miraculous comeback. Although Unitas got the start in Super Bowl V, he was extremely ineffective before getting injured and replaced by Morrall in an error-filled game. The two combined to lead Baltimore to a 16-13 victory over Dallas, but it remains one of the worst offensive performances by any team in Super Bowl history. How bad was it? The teams combined for 11 turnovers, including 3 INTs by Unitas and Morrall, and the MVP of the game was a linebacker on the losing team (Chuck Howley).
 
Signature moment: The Colts trailed the Cowboys, 6-0, early in the second quarter of Super Bowl V and had been incapable of moving against the Dallas defense. Unitas fired a pass that was mishandled by receiver Eddie Hinton, bounced off Cowboys defensive back Mel Renfro, and ended up in the hands of tight end John Mackey, who raced 45 yards to complete a 75-yard scoring play. It was the only TD pass Unitas threw in just under four quarters of Super Bowl play and was symbolic of a game that proved a comedy of errors. Fittingly, kicker Jim O'Brien's extra point attempt was blocked.
 
Super Bowl
Comp.
Att.
Pct.
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rating
Result
III (off bench)
11
24
45.8
110
0
1
42.0
L 16-7
V
3
9
33.3
88
1
2
68.1
W 16-13
TOTALS
14
33
42.4
198
1
3
34.7
1-1
 
***
 
Earl Morrall, Baltimore
Games – 2 (III, V)
Wins – 1 (V)
 
Overview: Morrall is one of the more interesting journeymen in NFL history. He played 22 seasons for six different teams and was a Pro Bowl performer with two of them: the Steelers in 1957 and the Colts in 1968. He played second fiddle to Hall of Famer Tarkenton for a year with the N.Y. Giants, to Hall of Famer Unitas for four years in Baltimore, and to Hall of Famer Bob Griese for five years in Miami.
 
He also had more than his fair share of success when given time to play. He was the primary quarterback on two of the greatest teams in NFL history (1968 Colts, 1972 Dolphins), played on four Super Bowl teams (1968 Colts, 1970 Colts, 1972 Dolphins, 1973 Dolphins) and saw significant playing time in two Super Bowls.
 
Unitas was injured and missed the 1968 season in Baltimore. Morrall took over the team and led it to a spectacular 13-1 season. The 1968 Colts were, in fact, the most dominant regular-season team in modern NFL history. In 1972 in Miami, Bob Griese went down with a broken leg in Week Five. Morrall came off the bench to win 11 straight games, including two in the playoffs, as part of the only undefeated campaign in NFL history. Morrall was then benched for Super Bowl VII, as Griese returned from injury.
 
Perhaps Miami coach Don Shula sat Morrall for Super Bowl VII because he remembered the quarterback's performance in Super Bowl III. After all, Shula was Morrall's coach that season in Baltimore. Morrall tossed three INTs in the famous 16-7 loss to the AFL Jets and is the player most singularly responsible for the greatest upset in NFL history. 
 
Signature moment: Super Bowl V limped to an inglorious conclusion as Baltimore linebacker Mike Curtis returned an interception 13 yards to the Dallas 28 in the waning moments of the game. Morrall hardly sparkled that day, but he managed to successfully take two straight snaps without losing the football. Rookie kicker Jim O'Brien then stepped in and kicked the game-winning 32-yard field goal with five seconds to play. 
 
Super Bowl
Comp.
Att.
Pct.
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rating
Result
III
6
17
35.3
71
0
3
9.3
L 16-7
V (off bench)
7
15
46.7
147
0
1
54.0
W 16-13
TOTALS
13
32
40.6
218
0
4
24.7
1-1
 
***
Craig Morton, Dallas, Denver
Games – 2 (V, XII)
Wins – 0
 
Overview: Morton has two claims to fame. Forty years into the Super Bowl Era, he remains the only quarterback to play for two different teams in the Super Bowl, the 1970 Cowboys and the 1977 Broncos. But he then proved to be the worst Super Bowl quarterback in history. Morton managed to defy the laws of physics by tossing 7 interceptions in just 41 Super Bowl pass attempts. His awful 3-INT effort in Super Bowl V was followed by a truly mind-numbing Super Bowl XII performance in which he completed four passes to his own Broncos teammates and four passes to Dallas defenders. Morton posted a perfect 0.0 rating in Super Bowl XII.
 
Signature moment: Morton and the 1970 Cowboys were put into perfect position for a victory in comedic Super Bowl V when they took over the ball on the Baltimore 48-yard line with just 2 minutes to play in a 13-13 ballgame. The Cowboys quickly managed to lose 25 yards (24 on a spot holding penalty). On 2nd-and-35, Morton threw to running back Dan Reeves, who completely whiffed on the ball. It was then picked off by Baltimore linebacker Mike Curtis. The ball ended up on the Dallas 28 and O'Brien kicked his game-winning field goal two plays later.
 
Super Bowl
Comp.
Att.
Pct.
Yards
TDs
INTs
Rating
Result
V (Dallas)
12
26
46.2
127
1
3
34.1
L 16-13
XII (Denver)
4
15
26.7
39
0
4
0.0
L 27-10
TOTALS
16
41
39.0
166
1
7
20.0
0-2
 
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