For the first time since Super Bowl LI, two NFL MVP quarterbacks will face off on the game’s grandest stage when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, securing the fifth seed in the NFC in the playoffs. Their road to the Super Bowl saw them win three road games, beginning with a 31-23 win over the Washington Football team in the Wild Card round. Brady then got his revenge on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, knocking out the future Hall of Fame quarterback 30-20 in a divisional-round victory. Finally, facing presumed 2020 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Buccaneers delivered a 31-26 win in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. They become the first team to make the Super Bowl after winning three games on the road since Rodgers’ 2010 Packers.
Kansas City earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC thanks to an NFL-best 14-2 record. Their road to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances kicked off with a 22-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. Facing the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game, Mahomes proved why he earned NFL MVP in 2018 with a dominant 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Super Bowl LV isn’t just a meeting between former NFL MVPs. It’s also a historic showdown. The Buccaneers are the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, with Brady eyeing his record seventh Lombardi Trophy. Meanwhile, the Chiefs hope to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the 2003-’04 New England Patriots..
In honor of this Super Bowl matchup, let’s take a look at each of the past Super Bowls contested between NFL MVP quarterbacks.
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Super Bowl IX: Terry Bradshaw vs Fran Tarkenton
It took nine Super Bowls before two MVP quarterbacks faced off. In 1975, the moment arrived. However, at the time of this matchup, neither Terry Bradshaw nor Fran Tarkenton had won the prestigious honor. Instead, it was a sign of things to come.
Tarkenton won NFL MVP the following season, while Bradshaw earned the award in 1978. Bradshaw and the Steelers went on to secure their first Super Bowl title, thanks to a low-scoring 16-6 victory. Bradshaw completed just 9-of-14 passes for 96 yards and a score, while Tarkenton had 102 yards and three interceptions.
Super Bowl XI: Ken Stabler vs Fran Tarkenton
Tarkenton returned to the Super Bowl two years later, facing off against Ken Stabler and the Oakland Raiders. Stabler won NFL MVP in 1974, but lost to Bradshaw’s Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to an aforementioned Super Bowl IX clash against Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings.
Minnesota couldn’t get the job done on this occasion, either, as the Raiders won 32-14 to earn their first of three Super Bowls. Ken Stabler finished with 180 passing yards and a touchdown, while Tarkenton threw for 205 passing, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Super Bowl XVI: Joe Montana vs Ken Anderson
Joe Montana made four Super Bowl appearances, all coming against teams led by MVP quarterbacks. While Montana didn’t win his first MVP award until his final Super Bowl appearance. His first SB matchup came against the season’s MVP Ken Anderson and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Montana and the 49ers walked away victorious, thanks to a 26-21 win and Super Bowl MVP honors for the star quarterback. Montana threw for 157 passing yards and a touchdown, while Anderson had 300 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. This would not be the last time the 49ers and Bengals faced off on the biggest stage in the 1980s.
Super Bowl XIX: Joe Montana vs Dan Marino
In the Super Bowl’s 55-year history, there has not been a game contested between two teams with a better combined regular-season record than the San Francisco 49ers (15-1) and the Miami Dolphins (14-2).
Dan Marino won NFL MVP in just his second season, setting then single-season records with 5,084 passing yards and 48 passing touchdowns. But the 49ers took home the greatest prize, beating the Dolphins 38-16. Montana was named Super Bowl MVP again, recording 331 passing yards, 59 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dan Marino put up 318 passing yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. It was Marino’s lone Super Bowl appearance.
Super Bowl XXIII: Joe Montana vs Boomer Esiason
Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers’ third Super Bowl appearance saw them clash with the Cincinnati Bengals but this time with Boomer Esiason under center. Esiason came into the Super Bowl following a regular season that saw him take home the season’s MVP award. He led the Bengals to a 12-4 record and the number one offense during the regular season.
Once again, it was the 49ers taking home the Lombardi Trophy-winning 20-16 against the Bengals. Joe Montana helped seal the win for the 49ers scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns culminated by a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor. He finished with 357 passing yards and two touchdowns, while Boomer Esiason threw for just 144 on 11/25 passing and an interception.
Super Bowl XXIV: Joe Montana vs John Elway
Super Bowl XXIV saw the 49ers face off against John Elway and the Denver Broncos. who were making their third Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons. Denver was unsuccessful in their its two attempts, losing to the New York Giants and Washington Football Team.
The Broncos fell short, getting dominated by the 49ers 55-10. This set the NFL record for most points in a Super Bowl and the biggest Super Bowl blowout ever. Montana threw for 297 passing yards and a then-Super Bowl-record five touchdown passes. Elway, on the other hand, threw for just 108 yards and two interceptions.
Super Bowl XXXII: John Elway vs Brett Favre
Following Super Bowl XXIV, it would take eight years before we saw a Super Bowl between MVP-winning quarterbacks. Finally, Elway and the Broncos faced Brett Favre and the Packers. The Broncos were making their first Super Bowl appearance since losing in Super Bowl XXIV. Meanwhile, the Packers were making their second straight Super Bowl appearance after winning Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots.
Denver earned its first Lombardi Trophy in this one, beating the Packers 31-24. Elway had a less than spectacular game, throwing for just 123 yards and an interception. Meanwhile, Favre recorded 256 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Broncos repeated as Super Bowl champions the following season, with Elway earning MVP in the final game of his career.
Super Bowl XXXIV: Kurt Warner vs Steve McNair
Kurt Warner’s MVP season in 1999 is one of the most spectacular in NFL history. He was in his first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, following stints in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe. Before that, he was on Green Bay’s practice squad and at one point worked in a grocery store. Warner supplanted Trent Green, who went down with a torn ACL in the preseason. Kurt Warner led ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ in a Super Bowl XXXIV matchup against 2003 MVP Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans.
The Rams went on to win 23-16, with an exciting ending that saw the Titans come one yard short of a game-tying touchdown. Warner was named the game’s MVP thanks to 414 passing yards and two touchdowns. McNair threw for 214 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Fun Fact: This was the last time a player has won AP NFL MVP and a Super Bowl championship in the same season.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Tom Brady vs Kurt Warner
Two years later, Kurt Warner and the Rams were back in the Super Bowl, this time doing battle with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Warner once more won AP MVP leading the Rams to a 14-2 record while also leading the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tom Brady nabbed the reins as the Patriots starting quarterback following an injury to Drew Bledsoe. Brady started 14 games, posting an 11-3 record with the Patriots finishing 11-5. The rest, as we know, is history.
The Rams came into the game as a 14-point favorite. But the Patriots stunned the NFL world, snagging a 20-17 victory on a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Tom Brady won Super Bowl MVP, recording 145 passing yards and a touchdown. Kurt Warner finished with 365 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning vs Cam Newton
It would take another 14 years before two MVP winning quarterbacks went head-to-head in the Super Bowl when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos took on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. This was Peyton Manning’s fourth Super Bowl appearance and his second with the Denver Broncos. Manning sat out six games with a torn plantar fascia starting just nine games only recording nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. However, the Broncos were still able to finish the regular season with a 12-4 record on the strength of one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Newton won the NFL MVP this season, leading the Panthers to a franchise-best 15-1 record. Against Denver’s elite defense, though, Newton was stymied, as the Broncos won the championship 24-10 in what would turn out to be Peyton Manning’s final NFL game. Manning finished with 141 passing yards and an interception. Newton recorded 265 passing yards and an interception.
Super Bowl LI: Tom Brady vs Matt Ryan
The following year’s Super Bowl gave us the most recent duel of MVP quarterbacks when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots went up against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan won this season’s MVP leading a Falcons offense that averaged a franchise record 33.8 points per game. Ryan also put up a career-high 38 passing touchdowns to just seven interceptions. The Patriots went 14-2 in a season that saw Tom Brady serve a four-game suspension to start the season because of Deflategate.
It was the Patriots that would ultimately win this instant classic 34-28 in the first Super Bowl to ever go to overtime. Brady orchestrated the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, as the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to shock Atlanta.
TB12 earned his fourth Super Bowl MVP, recording 466 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brady also set single-game records for passing yards, completions and attempts. Ryan finished with 284 passing yards and two touchdowns.