clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How have past rookie quarterbacks fared in Conference Championship games?

Brock Purdy has broken a lot of trends this season, and he’ll have to break another for the 49ers to win this weekend.

Brock Purdy NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 49ers hope to extend their winning streak to 12 games this week and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. Niners starting quarterback Brock Purdy will be just the seventh rookie in NFL history.

A rookie quarterback has never started a Super Bowl, so obviously, all six of these signal-callers lost.

1976 NFC Championship game: Pat Haden (Rams)
9-22, 1 TD, 2 INT, 161 YDS

Purdy is not the first seventh-round pick to start a conference title game as a rookie. Haden was an undersized quarterback at USC who saw his draft stock fall in part because he attended Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Selected in the 7th round of the 1975 draft, Haden was the third quarterback on the Rams heading into the season. When James Harris and Ron Jaworski went down with injuries, Haden took over and proved to be a solid game manager. When Harris returned to the field and struggled, Rams owner forced Chuck Knox to make Haden the starter.

The Rams went 5-1 in Haden’s starts during the regular season and even won a postseason game. However, Haden’s limitations were exposed in Minnesota against the Vikings in a 24-13 loss.

1986 NFC Championship game: Dieter Brock (Rams)
10-31, 0 TD, 1 INT, 66 YDS

The most unique rookie on this list, Brock was a legendary CFL quarterback who did not sign with an NFL team until he was in his mid-30s and ended up only playing one year in the NFL because of a knee injury. As a 34-year-old rookie, Brock finished third in the league in completion percentage and eighth in yards per attempt. The Rams went 11-5, winning the NFC West over a Joe Montana-led 49ers team, and beat the Cowboys 20-0 in the divisional round.

In the NFC Championship, though, Brock ran into the 1985 Bears. Maybe Brock would have a different legend if he had not faced the most legendary defense in league history. However, he did and had one of the worst statistical games you’ll see from a quarterback in a 24-0 loss in Chicago.

2000 NFC Championship game: Shaun King (Buccaneers)
13-29, 0 TD, 2 INT, 163 YDS

Another rookie third-stringer thrust into action by injuries, King helped the Bucs finish the season on a 4-1 run but struggled mightily in the postseason. A second-round pick, King and Tampa’s offense barely did enough to get past Washington in the divisional round (winning 14-13) before they traveled to St. Louis to play Kurt Warner and the Rams.

Tampa’s great defense gave the Bucs a chance, picking Warner off three times. However, King’s two turnovers of his own, alongside a lack of big plays, proved too costly. The Buccaneers lost an ugly, low-scoring 11-6 game.

2005 AFC Championship game: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers)
14-24, 2 TD, 3 INT, 226 YDS

The Steelers went 15-1 during the regular season of Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie year. But despite that success, a veteran Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 41-27 victory on the road in Pittsburgh. The Steelers defeated the Jets in the divisional round, but Roethlisberger threw two interceptions in that game as well. On an even bigger stage, he threw a trio of picks that ended Pittsburgh’s season.

2009 AFC Championship game: Joe Flacco (Ravens)
13-30, 0 TD, 3 INT, 141 YDS

Before Flacco defeated Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick, and the 49ers in the Harbowl, he was a rookie first-round pick slotted into the Ravens starting lineup. He had his ups and downs during the regular season and stumbled through wins in the wild card and divisional rounds.

Flacco completed just 20 of his 45 pass attempts with two total touchdowns in Baltimore’s two wins but did not commit a turnover. Facing a more experienced Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh for the AFC title, though, Flacco threw a trio of picks, dooming the Ravens to a 24-13 loss.

2010 AFC Championship game: Mark Sanchez (Jets)
17-30, 2 TD, 1 INT, 257 YDS

Of course, Mark Sanchez is the only rookie to record more touchdowns than turnovers in a conference championship game, alongside the most passing yards of anyone in this group.

While the Jets relied on Rex Ryan’s defense and a strong rushing attack (led by Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene) throughout the season, both of those things fell flat in Indianapolis against Peyton Manning’s Colts. Jones and Greene averaged less than 3.2 yards per carry, and the Jets' defense surrendered 30 points in a 30-17 loss.