15 Worst Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History
Usually people like to reflect on the great players and the glory of past Super Bowls. Usually. But sometimes, it’s just as important to look back at the guys who were un-clutch, didn’t show up, or were just completely over-matched.
See where we’re ranking them all in our 2012 list of the 15 Worst Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History:
15. Ben Roethlisberger (Super Bowl XL – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks)
Seattle arguably got robbed in this one by the refs, but in the end, a win is a win and Big Ben got his first Super Bowl victory with a 21-10 outcome. However, he really didn’t do much to deserve it. Despite actually getting the win, Roethlisberger starts off this list after posting a horrendous quarterback rating of 22.6.
14. John Elway (Super Bowl XXII – Denver Broncos vs. Washington Redskins)
Everyone remembers this game for Washington’s sick second quarter, in which they dropped 35 points on the Broncos and stole the Super Bowl with a resounding 42-10 victory. But for as good as Washington was, Elway and the Broncos were just as bad, if not worse.
Elway earns his first nod on this list, as he completed just 14-of-38 passes in this game, while also tossing three interceptions.
13. Chris Chandler (Super Bowl XXXIII – Atlanta Falcons vs. Denver Broncos)
This was a battled of aging, regressing quarterbacks, as the over-matched Chandler took on John Elway. We all know the Broncos steam-rolled the Falcons in this one, 34-19, but we might be forgetting how much of an impact Chandler had in the outcome. Chandler tossed three picks, as he was harassed all day by Denver’s aggressive defense.
12. Craig Morton (Super Bowl V – Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Colts)
Morton had a bad game in this one for the Cowboys, as he completed just 12 passes for a measly 126 yards to go with three interceptions. He obviously played a huge hand in losing this game, but he deserves a little bit of a break. This was a clear defensive battle with some ugly football, as the Colts narrowly won, 16-13.
11. Ron Jaworski (Super Bowl XV – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Oakland Raiders)
“Jaws” is known well as an ESPN analyst and for always having the answers when discussing quarterbacks and offense. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the answer in the biggest game of his life, as he tossed three picks and completed less than 50% of his passes while leading his offense to just 10 points in a 27-10 shellacking.
10. Fran Tarkenton (Super Bowl IX – Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
I loved Fran Tarkenton. If you go back and watch old film, he’s one of the most exciting players to watch, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who wanted to win more. Unfortunately, the wins didn’t come easy – or at all – for Tarkenton in the Super Bowl. His performance against Pittsburgh was one of his worst, though, as he completed just 11 passes for 102 yards and three picks.
9. Kerry Collins (Super Bowl XXXV – New York Giants vs. Baltimore Ravens)
I am cutting Collins some slack for this one, believe it or not, as he went up against arguably one of the greatest defenses of all-time in the young Ray Lewis-led Ravens. Still, Collins came up lame in the biggest game of his life, as he threw for just 115 yards and four picks. He didn’t even lead his offense to a single score in this game, either, as the Giants’ only score in a 34-7 thrashing came off of a special teams return.
8. John Elway (Super Bowl XXIV – Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers)
It’s impressive to get your team to the Super Bowl three times early in your career, but when you perform as awful as Elway did overall, it doesn’t help your legend. Luckily for Elway, the Broncos rode it out with him and he eventually got two rings and showed he was a Hall of Fame caliber passer.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen against the mighty 49ers, as Elway threw for just 108 yards and tossed two picks in a bone-crushing 55-10 demolition.
7. Billy Kilmer (Super Bowl VII – Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins)
I feel bad for Kilmer, as it wasn’t really his fault that he ran into a great team in the Dolphins that still happen to be the only team to run the table and finish with an undefeated record. It was a gruesome battle, but Kilmer still couldn’t get anything going at all in this one, as he struggled his way to just 104 yards through the air to go with three costly picks.
6. Jim Kelly (Super Bowl XXVI – Buffalo Bills vs. Washington Redskins)
Kelly led his Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances, which is insanely impressive. Unfortunately, each trip to the biggest stage ended in heartbreak – as did this one against the Redskins. Part of this bad performance stemmed from playing from behind and having to throw the ball 58 times, but there was still no excuse for Kelly’s four picks with everything on the line.
5. Neil O’Donnell (Super Bowl XXX – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys)
This one is especially disappointing because the Steelers probably would have won this Super Bowl, had O’Donnell just taken better care of the football. Instead of doing that, he threw three costly interceptions, two of which were arguably two of the worst picks thrown in Super Bowl history.
4. Earl Morrall (Super Bowl III – Baltimore Colts vs. New York Jets)
Morrall shows up high in this list for two reasons: Because he was terrible and his team lost, but also because he did not show up at all, despite the opposing team’s quarterback (Joe Namath) guaranteeing a victory. Morral finished a 16-7 loss with just six completions, 71 passing yards, and three picks. Not a good day at the office.
3. David Woodley (Super Bowl XVII – Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins)
Woodley completed four passes in this game. For 97 yards. And an interception. Enough said.
2. Craig Morton (Super Bowl XII – Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys)
Check out this irony: Two different Broncos quarterbacks make this list, Morton cracks the list twice, and the first time he’s mentioned he’s with the Cowboys, while the second time he’s facing the Cowboys. Simply magical. Unfortunately, there was nothing close to magical about his performance in this Super Bowl, as he completed just four passes for 39 yards and three interceptions. Man, I’m glad I didn’t have to watch that game.
1. Rich Gannon (Super Bowl XXXVII – Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
As ungodly awful as some of the performances are behind Gannon’s it’s extremely arguably that no other quarterback has done more to contribute to his team losing in Super Bowl history. Not only did Gannon throw a Super Bowl record five interceptions, but three of them were returned for touchdowns. You can’t afford to do that once in a game of that magnitude. But three times? Yeah, Gannon belongs here at the “top”.
Drew Bledsoe (Super Bowl XXXI – New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers)
Bledsoe threw some picks in this one, but he was actually okay in this game, and a lot of his bad plays were the result of constant pressure. Reggie White alone struck fear into Bledsoe at the end of this game as the Packers held on, 35-21.
Tony Eason (Super Bowl XX – New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears)
Eason is an honorable mention, but he doesn’t deserve to make this list. He did go 0-6 in this game, but he got knocked out from it early, so we’ll never know if he could have turned things around.
Rex Grossman (Super Bowl XLI – Chicago Bears vs. Indianpolis Colts)
Not just because he’s always been an erratic quarterback, but Grossman almost belongs on this list because he was just ineffective when it mattered most. He totaled just 168 yards through the air and also threw two costly picks. He wasn’t awful, but he certainly didn’t have his best day.