Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Was Peyton Manning's performance the worst ever by a Super Bowl winner?

Peyton Manning's a sure-fire Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. But on Sunday night, the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 despite him, not because of him.

Was his performance the worst ever by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback? Let's find out.

In Friday's Super Bowl preview, we used a statistic — adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) — to discuss the disparity between the Panthers' passing offense and the Broncos' passing offense. In that piece, we suggested that even though Manning was awful in 2015, the Broncos could overcome his low ANY/A.

Why ANY/A? It's a statistic that rewards quarterbacks for touchdown passes and penalizes them for interceptions and sacks. Quarterback rating also factors in touchdown passes and interceptions, but it does not factor in sacks. Also, while the average quarterback rating has risen steadily in recent years as quarterbacks settle for shorter, higher percentage throws, the average ANY/A has remained relatively consistent.

ANY/A is simple to calculate. Here's the formula: (passing yards + 20*(passing touchdowns) - 45*(interceptions thrown) - sack yards) / (pass attempts + sacks).

On Sunday, Manning attempted 23 passes, completing 13 for 141 yards. Only five quarterbacks have gained fewer than 141 passing yards in a Super Bowl win (minimum 10 attempts).

The Panthers also sacked Manning five times for 37 yards. Ultimately, he finished with 2.11 ANY/A. Cam Newton, by the way, finished with 3.32.

While 2.11 yards is exceptionally low, it's not the worst, or even the second-worst. Ben Roethlisberger gained only 1.14 yards in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl XL win, and Johnny Unitas gained 2.00 yards in the Baltimore Colts' Super Bowl V win. (A rib injury forced Unitas out of the game in the second quarter. The Colts were losing 13-6.)

QuarterbackSuper BowlComp %YardsTDINTSacksANY/A
Ben Roethlisberger2006, Steelers 21, Seahawks 1042.861230211.14
Johnny Unitas1971, Colts 16, Cowboys 1333.33881202.00
Peyton Manning2016, Broncos 24, Panthers 1056.521410152.11
Joe Theismann1983, Washington 27, Dolphins 1765.221432232.85
Bob Griese1973, Dolphins 14, Washington 772.73881123.38
John Elway1998, Broncos 31, Packers 2454.551230103.55
Len Dawson1970, Chiefs 23, Vikings 770.581421134.85
Trent Dilfer2001, Ravens 34, Giants 748.001531035.46
Peyton Manning2007, Colts 29, Bears 1765.792471115.48
Troy Aikman1994, Cowboys 30, Bills 13 70.372070125.48

By ANY/A, Manning's performance Sunday was the third-worst by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. He was unremarkable in his other Super Bowl win as well. His 247-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception outing against Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI ranks as the ninth-worst.

Among all quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, Manning turned in the 10th-worst performance (minimum 10 pass attempts). His boss, two-time champion John Elway, holds the dubious distinction of being one of only two quarterbacks to finish a game with negative ANY/A. (In the table below, winners are in bold.)

To Tampa Bay fans' delight, the Buccaneers are responsible for one of the all-time worst performances. In their 48-21 pillaging of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, the Bucs defenders absolutely mauled Rich Gannon, sacking him five times and forcing an NFL-record five interceptions, three of which they returned for touchdowns.

QuarterbackSuper BowlComp %YardsTDINTSacksANY/A
John Elway1990, 49ers 55, Broncos 1038.46108024-0.40
Craig Morton1971, Colts 16, Cowboys 1346.15127132-0.07
Ben Roethlisberger2006, Steelers 21, Seahawks 1042.861230211.14
Rich Gannon2003, Buccaneers 48, Raiders 2154.552722511.32
Norris Weese1978, Cowboys 27, Broncos 1040.00220021.33
Drew Bledsoe1997, Packers 35, Patriots 2152.082532451.40
Jim Kelly 1992, Washington 37, Bills 2448.282752451.41
Neil O'Donnell1996, Cowboys 27, Steelers 1757.142391341.74
Johnny Unitas1971, Colts 16, Cowboys 1333.33881202.00
Peyton Manning2016, Broncos 24, Panthers 1056.521410152.11

Twelve quarterbacks have played in three or more Super Bowls. Manning ranks in the middle of the pack.

QuarterbackSuper BowlsRecordANY/A
Fran TarkentonVIII, IX, XI0-32.38
Jim KellyXXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXXVIII0-42.94
Bob GrieseVI, VII, VIII2-13.71
John ElwayXXI, XXII, XXIV, XXXII, XXXIII2-34.34
Ben RoethlisbergerXL, XLIII, XLV2-1 4.64
Peyton ManningXLI, XLIV, XLVIII, 502-24.77
Roger StaubachVI, X, XII, XIII2-24.84
Tom BradyXXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLII, XLVI, XLIX4-26.22
Kurt WarnerXXXIV, XXXVI, XLIII1-27.94
Troy AikmanXXVII, XXVIII, XXX3-08.56
Terry BradshawIX, X, XIII, XIV4-09.50
Joe MontanaXVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV4-010.41

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

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