Clutch… ice in the veins… relentless… These are phrases often used to describe NFL quarterbacks who perform best under pressure. Regular season glory is good; just ask Tom Brady. But if you ever want to truly be considered an elite NFL quarterback you have to perform when it counts the most and that’s in the postseason. This is a list of guys who got it done in January. Here are the Top 5 NFL Playoff quarterbacks.
Honorable Mention: Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams/Arizona Cardinals:
In his 11 year NFL career Warner made the postseason five times and compiled a 9-4 record. That’s a .692 winning percentage. Warner led his teams to three Super Bowl appearances; twice with the Rams and once with the Cardinals. Although the Rams had appeared in a Super Bowl when they were in Los Angeles, the city of St. Louis had never had a team in the Super Bowl (Cardinals or Rams). In 1999, Warner went 3-0 in his first playoff run and captured the Lombardi and a Super Bowl MVP. Two seasons later Warner would have his team back in the big game and leading late. But on that day, the legend of Tom Brady was born and Warner and the Rams would fall short. In 2008 Warner took the Arizona Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl appearance. Again Warner would have his team up late, but again his team would fall short as Ben Roethlisberger drove down the field for the winning touchdown. Warner owns the Top 3 passing games in Super Bowl history and is tied with Joe Montana for the most passing touchdowns during a single postseason – 11. He is also only the second quarterback to start in a Super Bowl with two different teams.
5. Eli Manning – New York Giants:
After his second improbable championship run in four years Eli Manning has slid into 5th on this list. Love him or leave him Eli is indeed “Elite.” Well at least when it comes to the postseason. Manning is 8-3 in the playoffs with three come from behind victories and two game winning drives; both culminated in Super Bowl wins. Of Manning’s eight wins, seven of them have come on the road and most were unexpected. Collectively in the playoffs Manning has completed over 61 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Three of those interceptions came in his first playoff game, a loss, back in 2005. Manning is the Houdini of Super Bowls. Whether it was his death-defying escape from a sack in 2007 that allowed David Tyree’s impossible helmet catch or his perfectly thrown pass to Mario Manningham during last year’s heroics, Eli always has an Ace up his sleeve. He is a two-time Super MVP.
4. John Elway – Denver Broncos:
John Elway went to the playoffs nine times in his 16 year NFL career and brought football fans some of the greatest playoff memories in NFL history. From ‘The Drive’ to ‘The Fumble’ to back to back Super Bowl titles, Elway compiled a .667 playoff winning percentage with a 14-7 record. Elway appeared in six AFC Championship games and five Super Bowls during his Hall of Fame career. Elway lost his first three Super Bowls in games that weren’t even close as he played superior teams in the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and San Francisco 49ers. In 1997-98, with the addition of a strong running game led by Terrell Davis, Elway was finally able to get over the hump and win two Super Bowls to close out his career. Elway’s playoff numbers were 4,564 yards, 27 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
3. Terry Bradshaw – Pittsburgh Steelers:
When you’re the starting quarterback in four Super Bowls and you win all four of them of course you make this list. What Terry Bradshaw did with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 70’s was nothing short of amazing. Bradshaw played 14 seasons with Pittsburgh and went to the postseason nine times where he accumulated at .737 winning percentage with a 14-5 record. To win back to back Super Bowls is a feat in itself, but to do it twice is incredible. Bradshaw was twice named the Super Bowl MVP.
2. Tom Brady – New England Patriots:
Some guys are just born to be NFL postseason quarterbacks and Tom Brady is definitely one of them. Brady’s playoff legacy was born in his first year as an NFL starter when he led the Patriots on a game winning drive and their first Super Bowl title. Brady has gone to the postseason an impressive nine times. Keep in mind he missed a full year due to a knee injury. In nine playoff appearances Brady has amassed 17 wins to only seven losses.
In 24 total games Brady has thrown for over 5,949 yards, 42 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Brady began his playoff run with nine consecutive wins, three Super Bowl Championships and two Super Bowl MVP awards. In 2007, Brady led the Patriots to a perfect regular season and up until the last few minutes of the game he had his team in position to win a fourth Super Bowl.
1. Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers/Kansas City Chiefs:
And then there was one. Joe Montana is another four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and sits atop this list. During his 15 year NFL career Montana went to the postseason an unprecedented 11 times. He is the All-Time NFL leader for playoff appearances by a quarterback with 23. Joe Cool as he was sometimes referred to won 16 postseason games with seven losses for a winning percentage of .696. Keep in mind that two of those losses came with the Kansas City Chiefs at the end of his career when the 49ers opted to go in a Younger direction. Montana passed for more postseason touchdowns than anyone with 45. In his four Super Bowls he threw for 1,142 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a Super Bowl passer rating of 127.8 and it was good enough to earn him Super Bowl MVP honors three times along with the No. 1 spot on this list.