Brady vs. Montana vs. Bradshaw vs. . . .

Tom Brady’s fourth Super Bowl win with the Patriots puts him pretty close to the top of the heap, championship-wise. After all, only four other quarterbacks have won four or more NFL titles — Hall of Famers Bart Starr (5), Joe MontanaTerry Bradshaw and Sid Luckman.

Here’s how Brady’s championship-game numbers compare to theirs. I included Otto Graham because he just seems to belong in this group. Graham played in the title game in all six of his NFL seasons (1950-55), and he might have played in more if he hadn’t spent his first four years in the rival All-America Conference.


Span  Quarterback, Team W-L Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int Rating High Low
1981-89  Montana, 49ers 4-0 122   83 68.0 1142 11   0 127.8 147.6 100.0
1974-79  Bradshaw, Steelers 4-0   84   49 58.3   932   9   4 112.8 122.5 101.9
2001-14  Brady, Patriots 4-2 247 164 66.4 1605 13   4   95.3 110.2   82.5
1960-67  Starr, Packers 5-1 137   79 57.7 1026   8   2   94.7 130.9   54.7
1940-46  Luckman, Bears 4-1   76   41 53.9   680   7   4   93.1 135.6*     9.7
1950-55  Graham, Browns 3-3 160   86 53.8 1161 10 12   66.7 122.2     0.0

(Note: “Span” is the span of seasons they played in title games, not the span of their careers. “High” and “Low” are their best and worst passer ratings in those games.)

In Starr’s case, the first four games were NFL championship games and the last two were Super Bowls against the teams that won the AFL title. Interestingly, if you exclude the two Super Bowls — against a lesser league — and count the 1966 and ’67 NFL championship games against the Cowboys instead, his rating actually goes up. This is what his revised line would look like:

Span  Quarterback, Team W-L Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int Rating High Low
1960-67  Starr, Packers 5-1 142 83 58.5 1069 11 1 105.0 143.5 54.7

A 105 rating, of course, would move him ahead of Brady and not far behind Montana and Bradshaw. Starr was a gamer, all right.

As you can see in the chart, Montana and Bradshaw never posted a rating below 100 in a Super Bowl. Amazing. Brady hasn’t been able to match that, but he has topped 100 three times. The other three QBs all had at least one game where they stunk it up (or played well below their standards). Check out this game by Graham (a rating of 0.0!) and this one by Luckman (9.7). Yikes.

Keep in mind: We’re looking only at passing proficiency here. We’re not taking into account weather conditions, other abilities the quarterbacks might have (e.g. Graham’s running), the quality of the defenses they went up against or the rules they played under. All that would make for a much longer — if not endless — discussion. You have to admit, though, Brady measures up well against the legends, and he might not be done collecting rings.

*Luckman had a 156.3 rating in the 73-0 obliteration of the Redskins in 1940, but he attempted only four passes. So I went with his 135.6 rating against Washington in ′43, when he threw 26 times.


The Patriots' Tom Brady is fantabulous, but Joe Montana put up better numbers in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots’ Tom Brady is fantabulous, but Joe Montana put up better numbers in the Super Bowl.