What makes a Super Bowl winning quarterback?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What kind of performance does it take for a QB to lead his team to Championship Glory? Judging by history, it really is a mixed bag.

The Winning Quarterbacks

Name Team Opp. Att. Comp. Comp. % Yards Y/A TD INT Rating
Phil Simms NYG Den 25 22 88.0% 268 10.7 3 0 150.9
Joe Montana SF Den 29 22 75.9% 297 10.2 5 0 147.6
Jim Plunkett Oak Phi 21 13 61.9% 261 12.4 3 0 145.0
Troy Aikman Dal Buf 30 22 73.3% 273 9.1 4 0 140.7
Steve Young SF SD 36 24 66.7% 325 9.0 6 0 134.8
Doug Williams Wash Den 29 18 62.1% 340 11.7 4 1 127.9
Joe Montana SF Mia 35 24 68.6% 331 9.5 3 0 127.2
Joe Flacco Bal SF 33 22 66.7% 287 8.7 3 0 124.2
Russell Wilson Sea Den 25 18 72.0% 206 8.2 2 0 123.1
Terry Bradshaw Pit Dal 19 9 47.4% 209 11.0 2 0 122.5
Terry Bradshaw Pit Dal 30 17 56.7% 318 11.6 4 1 119.2
Bart Starr GB KC 23 16 69.6% 250 10.9 2 1 116.2
Roger Staubach Dal Mia 19 12 63.2% 119 6.3 2 0 115.9
Joe Montana SF Cin 36 23 63.9% 357 9.9 2 0 115.2
Drew Brees NO Indy 39 32 82.1% 288 7.4 2 0 114.5
Ken Stabler Oak Min 19 12 63.2% 180 9.5 1 0 111.7
Aaron Rodgers GB Pit 39 24 61.5% 304 7.8 3 0 111.5
Tom Brady NE Phi 33 23 69.7% 236 7.2 2 0 110.2
Bob Griese Mia Min 7 6 85.7% 73 10.4 0 0 110.1
Troy Aikman Dal Pit 23 15 65.2% 209 9.1 1 0 108.8
Terry Bradshaw Pit Min 14 9 64.3% 96 8.9 1 0 108.0
Brett Favre GB NE 27 14 51.9% 246 9.1 2 0 107.9
Jim McMahon Chi NE 20 12 60.0% 256 12.8 0 0 104.2
Eli Manning NYG NE 40 30 75.0% 296 7.4 1 0 103.7
Roger Staubach Dal Den 25 17 68.0% 183 7.3 1 0 102.6
Terry Bradhsaw Pit Ram 21 14 66.7% 309 14.7 2 3 101.9
Tom Brady NE Car 48 32 66.7% 354 7.4 3 1 100.5
Joe Montana SF Cin 22 14 63.6% 157 7.1 1 0 100.0
Kurt Warner St. L Ten 45 24 53.3% 414 9.2 2 0 99.7
John Elway Den Atl 29 18 62.1% 336 11.6 1 1 99.2
Jim Plunkett Rai Wash 25 16 64.0% 172 6.9 1 0 97.4
Bart Starr GB Oak 24 13 54.2% 202 8.4 1 0 96.2
Jeff Hostetler NYG Buf 32 20 62.5% 222 6.9 1 0 93.5
Ben Roethlisberger Pit Ari 30 21 70.0% 256 8.5 1 1 93.2
Mark Rypien Wash Buf 33 18 54.6% 292 8.9 2 1 92.0
Len Dawson Wash Buf 17 12 70.6% 142 8.4 1 1 90.8
Bob Griese Mia Wash 11 8 72.7% 88 8.0 1 1 88.4
Eli Manning NYG NE 34 19 55.9% 255 7.5 2 1 87.3
Tom Brady NE St. L 27 16 59.3% 145 5.4 1 0 86.2
Joe Namath NYJ Bal 28 17 60.7% 206 7.4 0 0 83.3
Peyton Manning Indy Chi 38 25 65.8% 247 6.5 1 1 81.8
Trent Dilfer Bal NYG 25 12 48.0% 153 6.1 1 0 80.9
Brad Johnson TB Oak 34 18 52.9% 215 6.3 2 1 79.9
Troy Aikman Dal Buf 27 19 70.4% 207 7.7 0 1 77.2
Joe Theismann Wash Mia 23 15 65.2% 143 6.2 2 2 75.1
Johnny Unitas Bal Dal 9 3 33.3% 88 9.8 1 2 68.1
Earl Morrall Bal Dal 15 7 46.7% 147 9.8 0 1 54.0
John Elway Den GB 22 12 54.6% 123 5.6 0 1 51.9
Ben Roethlisberger Pit Sea 21 9 42.9% 123 5.9 0 2 22.6

*This table is sortable.  Thanks to Topher Doll for taking the time not only to format the table, but to compile the stats as well!

Yes Broncos fans, take this time to bury your head in shame at the fact that the two best performances in Super Bowl history came against your Denver Broncos.  I'm not going to count Russell Wilson's performance because his defense and special teams set him up all game.

Now that you're done weeping, take a look at the rest of the list.  As you can see, from top to bottom, what it takes to win a Super Bowl varies by case.

Do you have to be a 300-yard passer?

No.  In fact, out of the 48 winning performances, only 10 have eclipsed 300 yards passing.

Do you have to throw 3 or more TD passes?

No.  Only 11 of 48 performances have featured a performance with 3 or more TD passes.

What about interceptions?

Well, here we see a larger correlation.  Only Terry Bradshaw--you know the same Terry Bradshaw that trashed Peyton Manning's postseason record, has thrown 3 interceptions and won the game.  This was also in a game where he threw for 309 yards on only 14 completions.  Think Tim Tebow v. the Steelers.

30 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks or 62.5% of them did not throw an interception.

When you include QB's that threw only one pick, it accounts for 44/48 or a staggering 91.7% of the performances.  Remember Peyton Manning's 2 INT's against Seattle?  Only Joe Theismann, Ben Roethlisberger, and Johnny Unitas managed to win games when throwing 2 interceptions.

Other fun facts

- 62.5% of all winning QB's attempted less than 30 passes

- 77.2% of all winning QB's completed at least 60% of their passes

- 2 QB's have won Super Bowls when attempting less than 10 passes (Bob Griese, Johnny Unitas)

- 3 QB's have won Super Bowls when attempting more than 40 passes (Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady)

So what does it take?

Of course it varies by team, but if I had to craft a winning stat-line, it would look something like this:

19-29 (65.5%), 240 yards (8.3 YPA), 2 TD, 0 INT

The keys here are balance, effectiveness (higher yards per attempt) and most importantly no turnovers.

The Best of the Best

5. Jim Plunkett 13-21 (61.9%), 261 yards (12.4 YPA), 3 TD 0 INT, 145.0 Rating

4. Troy Aikman 22-30 (73.3%), 273 yards (9.1 YPA), 4 TD 0 INT, 140.7 Rating

3. Steve Young 24-36 (66.7%), 325 yards (9.0 YPA), 6 TD 0 INT, 134.8 Rating

2. Phil Simms 22-25 (88.0%), 268 yards (10.7 YPA), 3 TD 0 INT, 150.9 Rating

1. Joe Montana 22-29 (75.9%), 297 yards (10.2 YPA), 5 TD 0 INT, 147.6 Rating

It was a tough one deciding which Bronco slayer was topps, but you can't give me a better mastery performance than Joe Montana.  Steve Young's Rating gets dinged by his lower completion percentage.  Passer Rating puts a premium on higher percentages.

The Worst of the Worst

5.Tom Brady 16-27 (59.3%), 145 yards (5.4 YPA), 1 TD 0 INT, 86.2 Rating

4. Trent Dilfer 12-25 (48.0%), 153 yards (6.1 YPA), 1 TD 0 INT, 80.9 Rating

3. Johnny Unitas 3-9 (33.3%), 88 yards (9.8 YPA), 1 TD 2 INT,  68.1 Rating

2. John Elway 12-22 (54.6%), 123 yards (5.6 YPA), 0 TD 1 INT, 51.9 Rating

1. Ben Roethlisberger 9-21 (42.9%), 123 yards (5.9 YPA), 0 TD 2 INT, 22.6 Rating

Each of these games save for the Denver/GB featured some smashmouth, shutdown, defensive performances.  But no one will remember that Elway played a sub-par game, they will remember "The Helicopter."  No one will remember that Tom Brady was willed to the finish line by his defense and kicker, they will remember that he dinked and dunked his way downfield against prevent defense to set up the winning score.

To the victor belong the spoils...unless you're Trent Dilfer, Johnny Unitas, and Ben Roethlisberger.

Elway and Manning Wins

How did John and Peyton fare in their Super Bowl victories?

Player

Game

Opp

Com

Att

%

Yards

YPA

TD

INT

Rate

Elway

SB 32

GB

12

22

54.5

123

5.6

0

1

51.9

Elway

SB 33

ATL

19

29

62.1

336

10.7

1

1

99.2

Manning

SB 41

CHI

25

38

65.8

247

6.5

1

1

81.8

Totals

---

---

56

89

62.9

706

7.9

2

3

81.0

Nothing really flashy.  In SB 32 the workhorse was Terrell Davis.  John's only interception was with a 7-point lead the play after GB had turned the ball over.  Like I said, people only remember the helicopter from that game.

The 2nd time around, his numbers do not do him justice.  His lone interception was a deflection off the hands of Shannon Sharpe.

Manning on the other hand was efficient and moved the ball against the NFL's top rated defense.  For all the talk about his deficiencies in the elements, no one ever mentions the fact that he won this game in a torrential downpour.

Elway and Manning Losses

Player

Game

Opp

Com

Att

%

Yards

YPA

TD

INT

Rate

Elway

SB 21

NYG

22

37

59.5

304

8.2

1

1

83.6

Elway

SB 22

WAS

14

38

36.8

257

6.7

1

3

36.8

Elway

SB 24

SF

10

26

38.5

108

4.2

0

2

19.4

Manning

SB 44

HO

31

45

68.9

333

7.4

1

1

88.5

Manning

SB 48

SEA

34

49

69.4

280

5.7

1

2

73.5

Totals

---

---

111

195

56.9

1282

6.6

4

9

64.5

FOR THE LOVE OF FOOTBALL IT BURNS MY EYES.....IT BURNS!!!

What does this mean for Peyton?

First and foremost Peyton has to play mistake free ball.  With him, it seems as if turnovers come in bunches.  Can't have that.

You can count on him being efficient no matter the outcome, but if the offense isn't working the ball downfield with at least some success, you are going to see a lot of long drives where opportunities to fail abound.

The Perfect Manning game in my estimation will feature less than 35 attempts with no turnovers.

If we get into the position to play in the big game this year, we will revisit this post, until then...

GO BRONCOS!!!

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