The Super Bowl pits the two best teams against each other every year. It’s a celebration of the season and spectacle that has millions around the world tuning in. In the NFL, the best teams almost always have a very good quarterback at the helm. Very rarely do you see any quarterback who is not a household name in the Super Bowl. As a result, you’d assume to get good performances, for the most part, from them in the biggest game(s) of their lives.
Football is a funny game, though. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way it should. Here are the five worst Super Bowl performances by a quarterback ever.
Worst Super Bowl Quarterback Performances
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl XL
It’s hard to believe, but yes, future Hall of Famer and Super Bowl XL champion Ben Roethlisberger had one of the worst Super Bowl performances of all time. He went up against the Seattle Seahawks, who had only one Pro Bowl selection on their roster. You would think the Seahawks had the “Monsters of the Midway” playing for them by the way Big Ben played. The Steelers didn’t gain a single first down in the first quarter. Roethlisberger himself was only responsible for points on a one-yard quarterback sneak.
In a 21-10 victory, the Pittsburgh Steelers scored from a 75-yard touchdown run from running back Willie Parker and a trick play pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El to Hines Ward. Pittsburgh only gained 14 total first downs, thanks to Roethlisberger throwing 9/21 for just 123 yards, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of just 22.6. Roethlisberger will always be heralded as an all-time great. This Super Bowl performance however, even in a win, is a stain on his legacy.
4. Fran Tarkenton, Super Bowl IX
Our second Hall of Fame quarterback to make this list is former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton. This performance would be lower, however, this game is also the reason the NFL makes sure the Super Bowl is played either in a dome or down south. Super Bowl IX was the second-coldest Super Bowl of all time. The field was also slick from heavy rain the night before, so I’m going to give Tarkenton a little slack on his placement in this list. Sure, weather is part of the game, but when compared to performances in perfect weather, I’ll cut him a break.
Nevertheless, Tarkenton likely would’ve been bad even without the weather factor. He finished 11/26 with just 102 yards and three interceptions for a 14.1 quarterback rating.
While the NFL game was very different at this time (Terry Bradshaw was the winning quarterback while only throwing for 9/14 for 96 yards and a lone touchdown), that’s still unacceptable from a Hall of Fame-caliber player. While Fran did have to go up against the “Steel Curtain” Steeler defense, Bradshaw had to go up against the “Purple People Eaters” and did just fine. Can’t forgive Tarkenton for his performance here.
3. John Elway, Super Bowl XXIV
Yet another Hall of Fame quarterback graces our list with a truly pathetic performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Sure, the 49ers posted the third-fewest points given up in the league that season, but that hardly lets Elway off the hook for his performance. The Denver Broncos were thoroughly embarrassed in a 55-10 route. While the game was much more than the fault of Elway, he deserves quite a lot of the blame. The Broncos could only muster 12 total first downs thanks in part to Elway throwing 10/26 while just barely eclipsing the century mark with 108 yards. Add in two interceptions and what do you get? A 19.4 quarterback rating and an absolutely embarrassing effort.
While he did get a touchdown on the ground with his legs, he only added eight yards on four carries, so he wasn’t even contributing anything to the running game. The Broncos were also just 3/11 on third downs and this game was over by halftime. Football is a team sport for sure, but when you can’t even keep your team in the game for a half as the quarterback? It doesn’t get much worse than that.
2. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
Kerry Collins was not ready for the challenge the Baltimore Ravens defense posed, as he completed just 15 of his 39 passes for 112 yards and four interceptions. That adds up to a rating of 7.1 and one of the most embarrassing Super Bowl losses of all time.
The New York Giants not only lost 34-7, but Collins also somehow lost a quarterback duel in the Super Bowl to Trent Dilfer. Dilfer somehow was the best quarterback on the field by simply completing 12-of-25 passes for a lone touchdown. Sure, the Ravens defense was legit. Hell, they were second in yards against and first in points against. However, to not even be able to break double-digits on a quarterback rating in the Super Bowl? I’m sure Kerry Collins still has nightmares about this game when he sleeps at night.
1. Craig Morton, Super Bowl XII
When I was first looking through the box scores and film from past Super Bowls, I thought there was no way Kerry Collins wouldn’t be number one on this list. However, Craig Morton happened. Morton used to be a quarterback for the same Dallas Cowboys team he would be facing. However, after Roger Staubach’s performances in the previous season’s postseason, he became the backup and left for the Denver Broncos. I don’t think anyone in the Cowboys organization felt bad about their decision at first, and certainly didn’t after this game.
Somehow, Morton posted a quarterback rating of zero. Yes, zero. He only completed four of his 15 passes, but was still somehow able to throw four of those attempts into the arms of the Dallas defense. He had 39 yards and had just as many completions to the other team as his own. While his replacement Norris Weese didn’t do much better, he surely didn’t post a stat line like that.
To put in perspective how bad he was, Jared Goff had a rating of 57.9 when his offense only put up three points on the New England Patriots in a loss in Super Bowl LIII. Goff put forth a pretty bad performance and still looks like a prime Tom Brady compared to Craig Morton in Super Bowl XII.