For every quarterback that lifts the Lombardi Trophy, there is one walking off the Super Bowl field in defeat. Through 55 editions of the Super Bowl, some signal callers have made that woeful walk after truly dismal performances.
Between interceptions, fumbles and incompletions, some quarterback outings got out of hand on the stat sheets. In a few cases, getting pulled for a backup may have been the only thing that prevented the numbers from being even worse.
Some of the poor play can be attributed to the other side of the ball. After all, it also takes a certain level – even a historic level – of defense to reach the Super Bowl. Either way, there have been several quarterback performances in Super Bowl history that are memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Here are a handful of the worst QB records in Super Bowl history:
Who has thrown the most interceptions in a Super Bowl?
Rich Gannon threw five touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXVII. The problem is that three of them went to the other team.
The Oakland Raiders QB tossed a Super Bowl record five interceptions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who returned three of them for pick-sixes. The first pick-six came from Dwight Smith with 4:47 left in the third quarter and gave the Bucs a 34-3 lead. The Raiders got it to a 34-21 game with six minutes left in the game, but Gannon tossed two more pick-sixes in the final 80 seconds, one to Derrick Brooks and a second one for Smith.
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After Gannon, four quarterbacks sit at No. 2 on the list of most interceptions thrown in a Super Bowl: Kerry Collins (XXXV), Drew Bledsoe (XXXI), Jim Kelly (XXVI) and Craig Morton (XII) all threw four interceptions in their respective Super Bowl losses.
Who holds the record for worst quarterback rating in a Super Bowl?
Interceptions were not the only issue for Craig Morton during the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl XII loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Morton had a final statline of four completions on 15 attempts, 39 passing yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Throw that all into a formula, and you get a 0.0 quarterback rating.
He was eventually replaced by Norris Weese, who didn’t fare much better. Weese also had four completions, which amounted to 22 passing yards against the Cowboys’ vaunted defense.
The game wasn’t the first time Morton had been beaten by his QB counterpart, Roger Staubach, either. The Hall of Famer usurped Morton for the Cowboys’ starting job years earlier during their time together in Dallas. Staubach completed 17 of 25 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl XII victory, giving him a quarterback rating 102.6 points higher than his former teammate.
Who completed the fewest passes in a Super Bowl?
Tony Eason’s time against the all-time 1985 Chicago Bears was short and anything but sweet.
The New England Patriots signal caller was pulled from Super Bowl XX after just six pass attempts, all incompletions. He was also sacked three times and turned the ball over on a fumble. Steve Grogan replaced him under center as the Bears rolled to a 46-10 victory.
As bad as Eason’s day was, his passer rating still dwarfs Morton’s from Super Bowl XII. By completing zero passes while also throwing zero interceptions, Eason came away with a 39.6 passer rating.
Which quarterbacks have been benched in the Super Bowl?
Along with Eason and Morton, Earl Morrall was also sent to the bench in a Super Bowl.
Morrall had replaced Johnny Unitas during the 1968 season and put together an MVP year with the Baltimore Colts. However, it all came crashing down for him in Super Bowl III as he was replaced by a healthy Unitas after going 6-for-17 with 71 yards and three interceptions. Unitas and the Colts could not mount a comeback as Joe Namath and the New York Jets pulled off a historic upset.
The tables turned for Morrall and the Colts two years later in Super Bowl V against the Cowboys. Morrall had to come in for Unitas, who was injured late in the first half, and Baltimore scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure a 16-13 triumph.
Another instance of a starting quarterback being sent to the bench came in Super Bowl XXIV. John Elway had a rough go of it in his third Super Bowl appearance, finishing the evening going 10-for-26 with 108 passing yards and two interceptions. He was pulled from the Broncos’ last drive as the San Francisco 49ers already held a 55-10 lead, giving Gary Kubiak a chance to play.
A similar situation played out with Don Strock replacing David Woodley late in the Miami Dolphins’ Super Bowl XVII loss to Washington. Woodley completed just four passes on 14 attempts while compiling 97 passing yards, a touchdown and two turnovers.