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Oakland is going to the playoffs, but the Raiders will do so without starting quarterback Derek Carr. The third-year quarterback had a breakout season, driven in large part by his ability to minimize bad plays: Carr leads the NFL with a 2.8% sack rate, and his 1.1% interception rate ranks 4th in the league. Oakland went 12-3 in games started by Carr, but after breaking his fibula in a win over the Colts, the Raiders are now turning to Matt McGloin to lead them in the postseason. [Update: With McGloin hurt, Connor Cook will now be making his first career NFL start in the playoffs, the first quarterback to do that since at least 1950.]

Oakland isn’t the only team switching quarterbacks as we enter January. Houston started massive bust Brock Osweiler for the first 14 games of the season, and were rewarded with the worst quarterback play in the NFL. The Texans turned to Tom Savage early in the Jaguars game last week; Savage led Houston to a come-from-behind victory to earn the starting job. He struggled against Cincinnati in his first start, but he’s going to be the guy in the playoffs despite starting just one or two games all year (Houston could, in theory, rest Savage this week, as the Texans are locked in to the 4 seed).

Finally, there are the Miami Dolphins. After years of “will he or won’t he?” play from Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins are finally going to the playoffs…. but maybe without Tannehill. The perennially on-the-verge-of-breaking-out quarterback sprained his ACL and MCL against Arizona three weeks ago, leading his status for the playoffs in doubt. But backup Matt Moore led a game-winning drive against the Cardinals, excelled against the Jets, and was up-and-down in an overtime win against Buffalo on Sunday.

Assuming Moore starts in the playoffs, he’ll be the third quarterback this season to start a playoff game despite fewer than six regular season starts. Here’s every example in NFL history where that happened:

YearTeamMain QBStartsPlayoff QBPlayoff QB Reg Sea St
2016OAKDerek Carr15Connor Cook0
2016HOUBrock Osweiler14Tom Savage2
2016MIARyan Tannehill13Matt Moore3
2015CINAndy Dalton13A.J. McCarron3
2014ARIDrew Stanton8Ryan Lindley2
2012MINChristian Ponder16Joe Webb0
2011HOUMatt Schaub10T.J. Yates5
2008MINGus Frerotte11Tarvaris Jackson5
2007WASJason Campbell13Todd Collins3
2005CHIKyle Orton15Rex Grossman1
2002CLETim Couch14Kelly Holcomb2
2000NORJeff Blake11Aaron Brooks5
1999BUFDoug Flutie15Rob Johnson1
1999TAMTrent Dilfer10Shaun King5
1998NWEDrew Bledsoe14Scott Zolak2
1997MINBrad Johnson13Randall Cunningham3
1993DETRodney Peete10Erik Kramer4
1992BUFJim Kelly16Frank Reich0
1992MINRich Gannon12Sean Salisbury4
1991RAIJay Schroeder15Todd Marinovich1
1991DALTroy Aikman12Steve Beuerlein4
1990HOUWarren Moon15Cody Carlson1
1990NYGPhil Simms14Jeff Hostetler2
1990CHIJim Harbaugh14Mike Tomczak2
1988CLEBernie Kosar9Don Strock2
1988CHIJim McMahon9Mike Tomczak5
1987WASJay Schroeder10Doug Williams2
1987MINWade Wilson7Tommy Kramer5
1986CHIMike Tomczak7Doug Flutie1
1986NYJKen O'Brien14Pat Ryan2
1986RAMJim Everett5Jim Everett5
1984CHIJim McMahon9Steve Fuller4
1983DETEric Hipple16Gary Danielson0
1983DENJohn Elway10Steve DeBerg5
1982CLEBrian Sipe6Paul McDonald3
1982DETGary Danielson5Eric Hipple4
1979HOUDan Pastorini15Gifford Nielsen1
1979RAMPat Haden10Vince Ferragamo5
1977MINFran Tarkenton9Bob Lee4
1975RAMJames Harris13Ron Jaworski1
1972DALCraig Morton14Roger Staubach0
1972SFOSteve Spurrier9John Brodie5
1972MIAEarl Morrall9Bob Griese5
1971MINGary Cuozzo8Bob Lee4
1971BALEarl Morrall9Johnny Unitas5
1965BALJohnny Unitas11Tom Matte1
1957DETBobby Layne7Tobin Rote5
1949NYYDon Panciera12Pete Layden0
1948CRDRay Mallouf5Jerry Davis3
1945RAMBob Waterfield4Steve Nemeth4
1937CHIBernie Masterson5Bernie Masterson5

A few of these teams went on to win the Super Bowl, with the Giants behind Jeff Hostetler (after Phil Simms was lost for the season) being the most famous example. Ditto Washington with Doug Williams, who like Hostetler, only started two games during the regular season (that’s one of two instances on the list where Jay Schroeder was benched for the playoffs). Miami in 1972 went undefeated largely with Earl Morrall at quarterback, but switched to Bob Griese for the Super Bowl after he made a few plays in the second half of the AFC Championship Game. Vince Ferragamo led the Rams to the Super Bowl in 1979, after starter Pat Haden went down with an injury.

Shaun King took the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in 1999; Steve Fuller was the Bears starter in that game 15 years earlier. With Fran Tarkenton hurt, Bob Lee was the Vikings starter in the 1977 postseason, and the team made it to the NFC Championship Game. Roger Staubach (1972) and Johnny Unitas (1971) of all people qualify, too. And let’s not forget about Tobin Rote taking over for Bobby Layne‘s Lions in ’57 and guiding the Lions to the title.

The odds of either of the Matts or Tom Savage leading their teams to the Super Bowl seem long right now, but it’s happened before. Of course, so have things like the Joe Webb playoff experience.

  • sacramento gold miners

    It’s not very encouraging for the Raiders or Dolphins when you look at the list. If we deleted QBs with prior starting playoff experience like Doug Williams and John Brodie, it gets even worse. With the concerns about player safety, and the wear and tear of the grind of the season, I wonder if teams will be more proactive in pulling starters late in games. With a 19 point lead and 11 minutes left versus the Colts, Oakland’s backup could have handed off the ball, or threw conservative passes. If a freak turnover for a score happened, Carr could have been reinserted into the action to assure victory.

  • WR

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but did the late 40s eagles have 2 quarterbacks named Tommy Thompson?

    • Nah… that was a bug. I’ve fixed it.