Obviously, winning a Super Bowl can't be the only measure of quarterback's greatness. But to do it multiple times, that's quite an achievement. With a win on February 7th, Peyton Manning can become 12th quarterback with at least two Super Bowls wins. Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady are the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins. The game has changed since the Bradshaw days and its hard to compare different-era quarterbacks. Back in the 70s, teams ran the ball a lot more than they passed, but those pass attempts were longer when compared to today's NFL. That is one of the reasons why quarterbacks of the 70s completed passes with lower percentages. With Super Bowl passing charts for all three quarterbacks, we'll be able to see some of the differences regarding their style of play which are very much connected with the era in which they've played.
We'll go chronologically and start with Terry Bradshaw. The Blonde Bomber attempted 84 passes during his four Super Bowl starts. He completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 932 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Bradshaw distributed passes to his targets who, on average, were located 14.4 yards past the line of scrimmage.
We can see a lot of deep passes on the chart above. Four of his nine touchdown passes were thrown more than 30 yards downfield, 50-plus yard off-the-chart touchdown bomb included.
Next is Joe Montana who, just like Bradshaw, won all four big games in which he played. Montana, who attempted 122 passes during his four Super Bowls with the 49ers, didn't throw a single pick. He completed 68.0 percent of his passes for 1,142 yards, and 11 of 83 completions went for touchdowns.
In line with West-Coast offensive philosophy, Montana threw a lot more shorter passes, with 12 of those to his targets located behind the line of scrimmage. Consequently, he recorded lower average depth of target (9.6 yards).
The last of the three quarterbacks, is Tom Brady, who has led the Patriots to six Super Bowls prior to this season. In four Super Bowl wins, Brady completed 68.4 percent of 158 passes for 1,063 yards. He threw 10 touchdowns and was picked off three times. Brady mastered the short-passing game, counting on his receivers to gain lots of yards after the catch. Average depth of target in those four Super Bowl wins is a mere 7.6 yards.
The vast majority of Brady's throws were short. 54.1 percent of his passes were thrown five yards or shorter, 22 of those to targets stationed behind the line of scrimmage, and only one of his 10 touchdown passes was longer than 20 yards.
Finally, one last chart to compare the trio of quarterbacks, with added dimension - YAC%, or percentage of passing yards gained after the catch.