In a post below, we've been discussing the merits of Warren Moon. As often happens in such discussions, Moon's team's failings in the playoffs came up. Indeed, Moon's record as a playoff starter was 3-7, so you may believe Moon was a poor playoff performer.
But if you look at Warren Moon's playoff stats, you see a very good performer. He completed 64.3% of his passes, had 7.0 yards per attempt, and averaged 283 passing yards and 1.7 touchdown passes per game. He played very well in a lot of close losses: he threw for 315 yards and 2 TDs in a 3 point loss, 325 yards and 3 TDs in a 2 point loss, and 371 yards and 4 TDs in a 3 point loss. He had four consecutive playoff games with completion percentages between 70% and 75%. He had five consecutive playoff games with ratings between 91.8 and 118.4. By the numbers, he was a very good playoff quarterback.
Why, then, did Moon have a 3-7 record in the playoffs? It had less to do with Moon's failings than the failings of his teams' defenses: in Moon's 10 playoff starts, his team gave up an average of 26 points per game.
What does 26 points allowed per game mean?
In 2001, Tom Brady became a clutch playoff quarterback, but the Patriots didn't score 26 points in a single playoff game. If the defense had given up 26 points in any of their playoff games, would they still win the Super Bowl? Would Brady still be "clutch"?
In 2007, Eli Manning became a clutch playoff quarterback, but the Giants didn't score 26 points in a single playoff game. If the defense had given up 26 points in any of their playoff games, would they still win the Super Bowl? Would Manning still be "clutch"?
I'm not saying Brady and Manning should not be praised for their playoff performances. We can rightly appreciate the performances of quarterbacks who come through with big plays late in games. But should we still hold team playoff losses against a quarterback?
A look at individual performances shows that Warren Moon often played excellent football in the playoffs. His teams usually lost because they played badly on defense. Why, precisely, would should we blame Moon for these losses, and consider him a lesser quarterback?