This weekend’s Super Bowl LV features one of the premier quarterback matchups in the game’s history. Tom Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP, three-time First-Team All-Pro selection, and 14-time Pro Bowl selection, facing off against Patrick Mahomes, defending Super Bowl champion and MVP, 2018 NFL MVP, 2018 First-Team All-Pro selection, and three-time Pro Bowl selection, is the marquee matchup in today’s NFL. But is it the best Super Bowl matchup ever?
CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo looked to answer that question this morning as he ranked all 55 Super Bowl quarterback matchups (well, 52 because three of them were repeats). He used three criteria in creating his ranking: (1) career accomplishments before and after the Super Bowl, (2) where both quarterbacks were in their career, and (3) the quarterbacks’ positions on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Ranking 52nd was Super Bowl XX, with the Chicago Bears’ Jim McMahon versus the New England Patriots’ Tony Eason. The first Miami Dolphins quarterback appearance is at 50, with the Joe Theismann from the Washington Football Team facing off against Miami’s David Woodley - who completed a grand total of four passes in the game - in Super Bowl XVII after the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Miami comes back at 43, with Super Bowl VII, the game that clinched the Dolphins’ Perfect Season. That game featured Miami’s Bob Griese against Washington’s Billy Kilmer. There is a big leap up the standings for the next Dolphins appearance on the list, with Greise again the Miami starter, this time in Super Bowl VIII, where Miami completed their back-to-back championships against the Minnesota Vikings and quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Griese’s seven pass attempts in the game is still an all-time low for the Super Bowl.
The Dolphins are again on the list with the 17th ranked quarterback matchup, again with Griese as the team’s starter. This time it is 1971-1972’s Super Bowl VI, the first of the three-straight Super Bowls for the Dolphins, the first team in NFL history to accomplish that feat. Griese faced off against the Dallas Cowboys’ Roger Staubach, who won MVP of the game as Dallas dropped Miami - though the Dolphins would not lose another game until Week 2, two seasons later.
The lone remaining appearance for Miami on the list of Super Bowl matchups is the best one to argue against Mahomes-Brady: Dan Marino and the Dolphins versus Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Montana came into Super Bowl XIX having won Super Bowl XVI two years earlier along with being the game’s MVP and had already been selected to three Pro Bowls. Marino was the league’s MVP that season, had earned his first Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro selections, along with throwing for, then league records, 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. This game featured two quarterbacks in their primes slugging it out.
Which matchup is better? Mahomes versus Brady or Marino versus Montana?
DeArdo leans toward this year’s contest, writing:
No, this is not a prisoner-of-the-moment situation. Widely considered to be the NFL’s best quarterback, Mahomes is also the youngest player in NFL history to win regular season and Super Bowl MVP trophies. And while he is only in his third season as a starting quarterback, Mahomes would already have a strong Hall of Fame argument if his career ended today.
At 43, Brady has shown no signs of decline. A member of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback who has ever played the position. He’s also the greatest Super Bowl quarterback of all-time, with nine prior appearances, six rings and four Super Bowl MVPs to boot. This is a matchup of the best quarterback of all-time against the NFL’s best quarterback today — who’s well on his way to being an all-time great.
As for Marino versus Montana, he explains:
Before this year’s Super Bowl, this was the mostly highly anticipated Super Bowl quarterback matchup ever. Montana was in his prime and three years removed from leading the 49ers to their first title. Marino was coming off of an MVP season that saw him throw for then NFL records of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. Their performances in Super Bowl XIX lived up to the hype. Marino threw for 318 yards and a touchdown, while Montana threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 59 yards while leading the 49ers to their second Super Bowl title. While Montana won the hardware, Marino retired in 1999 as the NFL’s all-time leading passer and is arguably the greatest passer in league history as far as arm talent is concerned. Both players are members of the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Does this year’s quarterback matchup surpass Marino versus Montana?
What is the better all-time Super Bowl quarterback matchup?
This poll is closed
Mahomes vs. Brady - Super Bowl LV
Marino vs. Montana - Super Bowl XIX