Super Bowl

Here Are the Best Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History

Tom Brady and Joe Montana stand out as two of the best quarterbacks in Super Bowl history

USA Today

They say defense wins championships, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a prolific quarterback.

Throughout the first 55 Super Bowls in NFL history, there have been plenty of incredible performances from the men under center.

From Hall of Famers like Tom Brady and Joe Montana to unprecedented heroes like Nick Foles and Joe Flacco, the Super Bowl often brings out the best in players.

Here’s a look at some single-game Super Bowl passing records:

What is the record for completions in a Super Bowl?

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning dominate this list. They have five of the top 10 performances in terms of completions, though there is a key difference between the two – Brady’s three appearances on the list all came in wins against the Atlanta Falcons (No. 1), Seattle Seahawks (No. 2) and Carolina Panthers (tied for No. 4), while Manning’s two appearances both came in losses against the Seahawks (No. 3) and New Orleans Saints (tied for No. 5).

In all, there have been 10 performances where players have recorded 30 or more completions in a Super Bowl:

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1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI: 43

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX: 37

3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XLVIII: 34

T-4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV: 32

T-4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVIII: 32

T-6. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl XLIV: 31

T-6. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl XLIII: 31

T-6. Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills, Super Bowl XXVIII: 31

T-9. Eli Manning, New York Giants, Super Bowl XLVI: 30

T-9. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl XXXIX: 30

There’s a clear theme when you look at the players with the most completions in a single Super Bowl: other than Jim Kelly, all the players on the list played in the 21st century. 

Around that time, rules changed to favor the offense and protect quarterbacks. This allowed – and continues to allow – huge passing performances on the big stage.

What is the record for passing yards in a Super Bowl?

That Brady guy is pretty good. If you thought his completion record was impressive, just wait until you see TB12’s Super Bowl passing yards record.

In a losing effort against the Eagles in Super Bowl LII, Brady threw for a record 505 yards on 48 pass attempts. The record was set one year after Brady had a record 466 passing yards in the epic comeback victory over the Falcons. Oh yeah, and he did that at age 39 (Falcons) and 40 (Eagles).

Kurt Warner is the only other player who is within 100 yards of Brady’s record. The Pro Football Hall of Famer occupies the Nos. 3 and 4 spots on this list, and he did it for two separate NFC West teams: the then-St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals. Good enough for Warner’s life story to be turned into a sports movie this Christmas.

Here are the 10 highest passing yard outputs in Super Bowl history, with Brady and Warner making three appearances apiece:

  1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LII: 505
  2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI: 466
  3. Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXIV: 414
  4. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals, Super Bowl XLIII: 377
  5. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LII, 373
  6. Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXVI: 365
  7. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl XXXIX: 357
  8. Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIII: 357
  9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVIII: 354
  10. Doug Williams, Washington, Super Bowl XXII: 340

What is the record for passing touchdowns in a Super Bowl?

49ers QB Steve Young had six passing touchdowns in a 49-26 rout over the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. He had four touchdowns in the first half, and the game got so out of reach that 49ers backup QB Bill Musgrave played the final series of the game.

Young’s predecessor Joe Montana, set the passing touchdowns record a few years prior in 1990. Montana rifled five touchdowns in a 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos – the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. 

Similar to Young’s performance, Montana stayed on the sideline while his team took the field late in a blowout. This time, it was Young in relief.

Only six quarterbacks have thrown for four or more touchdowns in a single Super Bowl game:

1. Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX: 6

2. Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIV: 5

T-3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX: 4

T-3. Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXVII: 4

T-3. Doug Williams, Washington Football Team, Super Bowl XXII: 4

T-3. Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XIII: 4

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