This weekend’s NFC and AFC title games are matchups of quarterback titans. In the AFC, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger meet in the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. Meanwhile, NFC foes Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are playing the best football of their respective careers. These four players got me to thinking about other years where you had multiple future Hall of Famers and/or elite QBs facing off in the NFL’s Final Four. I started this idea by tweeting out a question to an NFL historian much greater than myself:
So that got me to digging. Below are my top six NFL QB Final Fours of all-time. This breakdown includes at least 15 current or future Hall of Fame QBs. As always feel free to offer me your feedback on Twitter @iamDougWarren
Jim Kelly (Buffalo Bills) vs. Joe Montana (Kansas City Chiefs)
The Bills dominated Montana and the Chiefs, 30-13, to go to their 4th-straight Super Bowl. Montana was replaced in the game by backup, Dave Krieg, after taking a shot to the back of the helmet by Bills’ DE, Phil Hansen.
Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys) vs. Steve Young (San Francisco 49ers)
The Cowboys roll the Niners, 38-21, for the second-straight season in the NFC title game.
Kelly vs. Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins)
The Bills went on the road to Miami and sank the Dolphins, 29-10, to yet again prevent Marino from a second Super Bowl trip.
Aikman vs. Young
In their first NFC title showdown, Aikman and the Cowboys down Young and the Niners, 30-20, to roll to their first of three Lombardi Trophies during the 1990s.
Bob Griese (Miami Dolphins) vs. Ken Stabler (Oakland Raiders)
Miami wins 27-10 to go to their third-straight Super Bowl.
Fran Tarkenton (Minnesota Vikings) vs. Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys)
The Vikings down the Cowboys, also by a 27-10 count, to go to their first Super Bowl with Tarkenton.
Tom Brady (New England Patriots) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) vs. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
Who will shine in this weekend’s matchups? We will know by Sunday night.
Brady vs. Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
The Pats beat San Diego, 21-12, to stay unbeaten at 18-0 and set up a date with history versus the winner of the Giants and Packers (see below).
Eli Manning (New York Giants) vs. Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers)
Eli out-duels Farve, 23-20, in overtime in frigid Lambeau Field to head to his first Super Bowl with Big Blue.
Griese vs. John Unitas (Baltimore Colts)
Griese throws just 8 passes. He completes 4 . . . for 158 yards and a TD. Conversely, Unitas goes 24-36, for 224 yards and 3 INTs – including a 62-yard pick-six to Dick Anderson, as Don Shula’s Dolphins drowned the Colts, 21-0, to earn their first of three-straight trips to the Super Bowl.
NOTE: I still consider Unitas the greatest QB in NFL history. This video helps explain why:
Staubach vs. John Brodie (San Francisco 49ers)
John Brodie, who would throw for 31,548 yards and 214 TDs in his 17-year career (1957-73) throws 3 interceptions on this day. Meanwhile, Staubach completes just 9 of 18 passes. The Cowboys instead ride the legs of Staubach, Walt Garrison, Duane Thomas and Calvin Hill, who combine for 46 carries, 178 yards and 2 TDs in a 14-3 win.
NOTE: Brodie is virtually unknown by most modern fans. But he was one of the best QB’s of his era and an All-Pro in 1970: