Five Best Underdog QB Super Bowl MVPs

After a long period of favorites dominating the Super Bowl, underdogs have roared back to life during the Tom Brady era.

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Fantastic quarterback performances often inspire underdogs to victory during the championship game, resulting in the pivot earning a well-deserved MVP nod. Over the 50+ years of NFL history, the five best Super Bowl MVP performances by underdog quarterbacks include big-yard performances and clutch, last-minute, game-winning drives. Will Brady win the coveted award yet again or does an underdog quarterbacks have a chance? A look into straight up playoff picks will help you decide who to back on Sunday.

5. Joe Flacco – 4.5-Point Underdog

Super Bowl XLVII – Baltimore Ravens

Most of the attention surrounding Super Bowl XLVII was placed on Colin Kaepernick, a fast, strong QB who could rush and pass well. Joe Flacco would quickly grab the headlines in the first half, throwing three TDs to lift the Ravens to a 21-6 lead.

Flacco didn’t keep that pace up in the second half, but still finished with 287 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions, resulting in an outstanding 124.2 passer rating. Flacco and Gore ensured that the 49ers were unable to complete a valiant comeback, clinching the MVP for Joe.

4. Len Dawson – 12-Point Underdog

Super Bowl IV – Kansas City Chiefs

Bookies hadn’t yet adjusted to the fact that the AFL was just as good as the NFL before the two groups merged. Similar to the previous Super Bowl, when the Jets were 18-point underdogs, the Kansas City Chiefs were listed as 12-point dogs against the Minnesota Vikings. The end result was another huge upset win by an AFL squad, as the Chiefs dominated the Vikings with a 23-7 victory.

 

This game was a brutish Super Bowl, resulting in very little offensive momentum for either side. But Len Dawson managed to cobble enough gains together to push the Chiefs to a 16-0 lead by halftime. Len put the game away after the Vikings started to mount a comeback, throwing the only TD pass of the game – a 46-yard completion to Otis Taylor.

3. Doug Williams – 3-Point Underdog

Super Bowl XXII – Washington Redskins

Washington were three-point underdogs against the Denver Broncos, partly because of the perceived mismatch at quarterback. Doug Williams, who entered the post-season as a backup with a 94.0 passer rating, faced legendary QB John Elway. Instead of wilting under pressure, Williams broke barriers and records as the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl.

 

After spotting the Broncos a 10-point lead, Williams went nuclear, throwing four TDs in the second quarter to ice the game before halftime, setting a record for most TD passes in a quarter. Doug finished with 340 yards, four TDs and a single interception, good for a 127.9 passer rating. Elway tossed three picks and was sacked five times, finishing with 257 yards and a 36.8 passer rating.

 

2. Eli Manning – 12-Point Underdog

Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants

The 2007 New York Giants appeared unremarkable for a playoff team, finishing the season with the 14th most points for and the 17th least points against. When the Giants made the Super Bowl as wild card entrants, most fans were pleased with the effort, but nobody foresaw a victory against the perfect season the Patriots had, prior to the big game, put together.

 

Super Bowl XLII would turn into a brutal, defensive slugfest, with the Pats entering the fourth quarter with a 7-3 lead. Eli Manning heated up in the fourth quarter, throwing a TD pass to David Tyree. Brady responded with a clock-eating drive to earn a four-point lead with 2:42 remaining. Manning marched New York back downfield. After Tyree secured the Helmet Catch, Eli calmly finished the comeback with a 13-yard strike to Plaxico Burress, finishing with 255 yards, two TDs, and a single interception, out-dueling one of the best teams in NFL Super Bowl history.

1. Joe Namath – 18-Point Underdog

Super Bowl III – New York Jets

Quarterbacks sure have changed over the past half-century. Modern pivots maximize through analytics, superfood and Adonis-level workout routines. Sure, Joe Namath practiced and worked out, but he also got tanked in public three days before the Super Bowl and guaranteed a victory over the massive favorites, the Baltimore Colts. Imagine that in today’s media-saturated environment.

 

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Joe ended up controlling the pace of Super Bowl III, passing for 206 yards while occasionally calling his own plays on the fly, or altering the play call according to the Colts defensive posture. Some observers point to Matt Snell as the MVP, with 121 rushing yards and a TD, but Namath’s commanding, error-free performance edged Snell for the individual honors.

Super Bowl MVPs

Super Bowl MVPs

 

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