Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playoff Legacies: NFC

Kurt Warner 
Warner is now 8-2 in the playoffs (6-0 in home playoff games), and has played spectacularly well in many playoff games.  He will join Craig Morton (1970 Cowboys and 1977 Broncos) as the only QB to start a Super Bowls for two different teams.  Before the Super Bowl, Norm Van Brocklin  was a platoon quarterback for the champion 1951 Rams, and starter for the 1960 EaglesEarl Morrall also started for the 1968 Colts, was backup on the 1970 Colts, was a backup that started and won several games for the 1972 Dolphins, and was a backup for the 1973 Dolphins.

Warner joins Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubauch, Joe Montana, John Elway, Troy Aikman, and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks to start at least three Super Bowls.  Those quarterbacks are Hall of Fame QBs--is Warner?  That's hard to say--he has had five great seasons, but was often irrelevant in other seasons.

Fitzgerald's 2008 post-season may be the greatest post-season domination by a pass catcher ever.  Jerry Rice is the greatest playoff WR ever (in four Super Bowls, he had 33 receptions, 589 yards, and eight touchdowns) and his best single playoff run was probably 1988, when in three games he had 21 catches for 409 yards, three rushes for 29 yards, and six touchdowns.  Like Rice, Fitzgerald is aided by spectacular quarterback play.  But Rice was usually a superstar guiding a juggernaut, while Fitzgerald is a superstar guiding a surprise 9-7 team to the Super Bowl. Fitzgerald's games of 6-101-1, 8-166-1, and 9-152-3 have been a joyful and incredible run.

Ken Stabler had some very good seasons and was a pretty good playoff quarterback (seven wins, five 100+ rating games, five multi-touchdown games), and has some memorable clutch playoff moments, but was 1-4 in AFC Championship games.  That's a lot like McNabb, but when when Stabler did get to the Super Bowl, he led the Raiders to a championship.

McNabb was often off-target against the Cardinals, missing open receivers high, low, behind, and in front.  Despite leading the team from down 24-6 to a 25-24 fourth-quarter lead, he has added to his reputation as a choker, a quarterback that doesn't come through in the "clutch."  Winning a Super Bowl would, I believe, cement a Hall of Fame career for McNabb.  One wonders, however, whether this was his last best shot.


  1. Anonymous6:21 PM

    As a fan of niether team, there is not a bias. We talked about officials making calls that announcers say "decide the game". Looked like pass interference on the Cardinals on the Eagles last drive. No call. Does that not decide the game?
    Aikman said "the officials cannot make that call to extend a drive at this stage of the game". I disagree. A penalty not called helps decide the game.

  2. Though the officials also may have botched a first half special teams call, when it looked like the ball bounced in bounds without touching an Eagle, but the refs did not give the ball to the Cardinals. I agree with the principle, but in this case there were possibly missed calls both ways.

  3. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I was at the game and the replay showed positively that the kickoff that was ruled off a Philly player and out of bounds was indeed in bounds and recovered by the Cardinals at the Philadelphia 24 yard line.

    It was a terrible blown call by that official and the Cardinals possibly could have been up 28-6 at half, as the Eagles really didn't slow them down much in the first half.

    I realize a person can't assume anything in the NFL, but another touchdown at that point in the game genuinely would have been a dagger to Philadelphia.

  4. Anonymous10:36 PM

    Larry Fitzgerald has become a monster. He is dominating opposing defenses. Superman is wearing Cardinal Red.

  5. First I am a Warner fan, but I am torn as to whether he is a Hall of Famer. On one hand Warner had some down seasons, but Warner is always on those lists.

    The two you pointed out plus the following:
    Second Highest Completion Percentage, Career
    Highest Average Passing Yards Per Game,
    Most Yards Passing, Super Bowl - 414 yards vs. Tennessee Titans (only QB to pass for 400+ yards in the Super Bowl; also owns 2nd highest yardage total in Super Bowl with 365 against the New England Patriots
    Highest Rate of Games w/300+ Yards Passing
    Most Consecutive Games w/300+ Yards Passing
    Most Games with a Perfect Passer Rating

    Anyway, he is tied for a lot of those, but it is quite impressive.

    I guess we will see what happens in a couple weeks