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Super Bowl Quarterback Mismatches
by Matt Fargo - 01/22/2007
Quarterback mismatches are not very common in the Super Bowl but when they occur, it usually means victory for the favorite. The Colts have the quarterback mismatch advantage in Super Bowl XLI and with that, a touchdown price tag on their back. Having Peyton Manning over Rex Grossman is certainly nice but does it mean automatic victory for Indianapolis? Not necessarily. But it does give the Colts a good head start and definitely puts history on their side.
Letâ€™s take a look of some past mismatches since 1980 and what the eventual outcome was.
Super Bowl XXXIII
We have not seen many mismatches in recent years and we have to go back to 1999 to get the latest one with John Elway and the Broncos going up against Chris Chandler and the Falcons. Elway passed for 336 yards and ran for a touchdown to earn most valuable player honors in what turned out to be his last game ever. The Broncos won the game by 15 points but the game was never in doubt as Denver had a 31-6 lead and put it in cruise control the rest of the way.
Super Bowl XXX
Arguably one of the best Super Bowl quarterbacks ever, Troy Aikman led his Cowboys in 1996 to square off against the Steelers and Neil Oâ€™Donnell. Aikman did not have the greatest of games as he completed 15 of 23 pass attempts for 209 yards but he didnâ€™t turn the ball over while his counterpart tossed three interceptions. The Cowboys earned a 10-point win and cover which was the 12th straight win for the NFC over the AFC, a record that went to 13 the following season.
Super Bowl XXIX
This was probably the biggest mismatch of the decade and it showed in the final score. Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young led the 49ers, in what would be their last Super Bowl, against the Chargers and Stan Humphries. All Young did was throw for a record six touchdowns while completing 24 of 36 passes for 325 yards. Humphries wasnâ€™t horrible but he wasnâ€™t very good either, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes while tossing two interceptions. San Francisco won by 23 points and covered easily.
Super Bowl XXII
John Elway was making his second straight appearance for the Broncos after getting beaten soundly the previous year against the Giants and it looked as though he would rebound. He was facing off against the Redskins and Doug Williams and led Denver to a 10-0 lead before Washington exploded for 35 points in the second quarter to take control of the game. Elway completed only 14 passes while throwing three interceptions in the 32-point loss. Williams threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
Super Bowl XX
We almost saw a rematch of this game this year but the Patriots couldnâ€™t get it done against the Colts, similar to the way they couldnâ€™t get it done in 1986 although a little more extreme. Jim McMahon led the Bears into New Orleans to take on New England and Tony Eason who to this day could be the worst quarterback ever to take a team to the big one. A 36-point Chicago win was never in doubt as Eason threw only six passes before being replaced by Steve Grogan.
Super Bowl XVII
This was the second meeting between the Redskins and Dolphins in a Super Bowl but a similar result did not occur. Joe Theisman led the Redskins against David Woodley and the Dolphins and this was about what the latter didnâ€™t accomplish. Woodley was 4 of 14 for 97 yards, with one touchdown and one interception before getting replaced by Don Strock who was 0-3. Theisman did not have a great game but he didnâ€™t need to as Woodley stunk it up while the Redskins rushing game flourished.
Super Bowl XIV
The first mismatch was another big one as Pittsburgh and Terry Bradshaw went up against Los Angeles and Vince Ferragamo. The result was a 31-19 Steelers victory as Bradshaw completed 14 of 21 passes for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did toss three interceptions but it mattered none as Ferragamo managed only 212 yards through the air while getting picked off once. It was the Steelers second straight Super Bowl win and fourth in six years.
So we have seen seven quarterback mismatches coming into the big game over the last 27 years and the superior signal caller has come out on top in six of those. The lone exception was Doug Williams and Washington in Super Bowl XXII. If this is any indication, Manning is in excellent shape to win his first Super Bowl ring in his first appearance. Grossman cannot win the game for the Bears but his goal is to not lose it for them and leave it up to the defense to win it. That is the matchup that will determine the winner.