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Tom Brady has been known to wear Suggs

Tom Brady has been known to wear Suggs

Disclaimer: Quarterbacks don’t have records, teams do. A quarterback’s “record” is simply shorthand for saying “the record of a quarterback’s teams in all playoff games started by that quarterback.” Please forgive me for using that shorthand for the remainder of this post.

Eight years ago, Doug Drinen wrote a fun post in advance of the 2006 AFC Championship Game. At the time, Peyton Manning had gone 0-2 in playoff games against Tom Brady, so Doug looked at quarterbacks who had gone winless against another particular quarterback in the postseason.

Manning wound up beating Brady in that game, and evened his record against Brady in the 2013 playoffs. No pair of quarterbacks have ever met as starters five times in the playoffs, so Brady/Manning are tied for the most playoff meetings. Joining them on Saturday will be Brady and Joe Flacco. This weekend’s game will be the fourth time since 2009 that the Ravens have traveled to Foxboro in the postseason, and Brady and Flacco have been under center for each game.

That will make Brady/Flacco the 4th pair of quarterbacks to face off four times in the playoffs. Who were the first three?

Terry Bradshaw (2-2) vs. Ken Stabler

1973, Division Round: OAK 33, PIT 14
1974, AFC Championship Game: PIT 24, OAK 13
1975, AFC Championship Game: PIT 16, OAK 10
1976, AFC Championship Game: OAK 24, PIT 7

The most famous game between Brady and Stabler, of course, was the Immaculate Reception game.  But Daryle Lamonica was the Oakland starter that day, although Stabler wound up replacing Lamonica in the 4th quarter. In fact, it was Stabler who scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown on a 30-yard rush.

That game was the first of a five-year stretch where the Steelers and Raiders would meet in the playoffs every year.  The Immaculate Reception took place at Three Rivers, but three of the four Bradshaw/Stabler games took place in Oakland.

Oakland exacted some revenge the following season, but the Raiders would then lose to the Dolphins in the AFC title game. After that, tho, the eventual winner of each Raiders/Steelers game would win the Super Bowl.1

Brett Favre (3-1) vs. Steve Young

1995, Division Round: GNB 27, SFO 17
1996, Division Round: GNB 35, SFO 14
1997, NFC Championship Game: GNB 23, SFO 10
1998, Wildcard Round: SFO 30, GNB 27

At first, Favre was the underdog: Young had won the AP MVP and the Super Bowl in 1994, as part of one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history.  In 1995, Favre won the AP MVP award, but the Packers were still heavy underdogs against the 49ers.  Green Bay pulled the upset, the first of three straight years in which the Packers knocked the 49ers out of the playoffs.  From 1992 to 1997, the 49ers made the playoffs all six years, and either lost to Green Bay (three times), lost to Dallas (twice), or won the Super Bowl (once).

In 1998, it appeared as though the Packers would make it four straight against San Francisco. Brett Favre threw a touchdown to Antonio Freeman with two minutes left to give the Packers a 27-23 lead. Then, in the final seconds, Young and Terrell Owens created The Catch II, connecting for a 25-yard touchdown on the last play from scrimmage.  Has Owens not made that catch, Young would have lost to Favre in four straight seasons, with three of those games coming in San Francisco.

Peyton Manning (2-2) vs. Tom Brady

2003, AFC Championship Game: NWE 24, IND 14
2004, Division Round: NWE 20, IND 3
2006, AFC Championship Game: IND 38, NWE 34
2013, AFC Championship Game: DEN 26, NWE 16

Here is a very succinct way to describe Brady/Manning in the playoffs: the home team has won each game.

Joe Flacco (3-1 or 2-2) vs. Tom Brady

2009, Wildcard Round: BAL 33, NWE 14
2011, AFC Championship Game: BAL 20, NWE 23
2012, AFC Championship Game: BAL 28, NWE 13
2014, Division Round: Ravens at Patriots

The first Ravens/Patriots playoff game was one of the worst games of the Brady/Belichick era.  New England fell behind 24-0 in the first quarter, and the Patriots finished with a Game Script of -16.6.  That’s the second worst of the Brady/Belichick era, behind a -18.0 in the famous 31-0 Bills game in the 2003 season opener.

In 2011, the Ravens nearly pulled off another upset. Flacco connected with Lee Evans for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, but Sterling Moore knocked the pass out of Evans’ hands.  Two plays later, Billy Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal that would have forced overtime. The miss sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl, but it would be the Ravens to next hoise a Lombardi Trophy.

That’s because the Ravens came into Foxboro and shocked the Patriots in the 2012 AFC Championship Game. Baltimore then defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl, capping perhaps the 2nd most unlikely Super Bowl run since 1978.

  1. This streak is still active: the two teams have only met once since 1976, which was when the Raiders defeated Pittsburgh in the 1983 playoffs. []
  • Alex

    The most famous game between Brady and Stabler, of course, was the Immaculate Reception game.

    I would love to see if The Tuck Rule game would’ve turned out differently with Stabler and Madden at the helm. I assume Ted Hendricks would’ve pile driven the referee.

    • WR

      What is the point of this comment? A fact Raiders fans will never acknowledge: On the Tuck Rule play, Charles Woodson should have been flagged for roughing the passer for hitting Brady in the head. NE should have gotten 15 yards and a 1st down.

  • John

    That’s Ray Lewis in the picture from the 2009 Wildcard game.

  • Richie

    Peyton Manning (2-2) vs. Tom Brady

    Funny. For all the “ringzzz” and “Manning sucks in the playoffs” talk about Manning and Brady, it is rarely mentioned that they are tied in head-to-head matchups. The people who argue these things are usually prone to get excited in QB W-L.

    Of course, Brady is also working on 8-straight seasons of “choking” in the playoffs, and always gets a pass for that.

    • WR

      “Of course, Brady is also working on 8-straight seasons of “choking” in the playoffs, and always gets a pass for that”
      Not anymore, he’s not. Brady has won more Super Bowls than Manning, more playoff games, a higher pct of his playoff games, and has thrown for more TDs and yards in the playoffs than Manning has. His teams outscore Manning’s teams by more than 4 ppg in the playoffs. He has 9 game winning drives in the playoffs, Manning only one. Brady is 21-8 in playoff games, with 4 SB wins in 12 playoff appearances. Manning is only 11-13, with 1 SB win in 14 appearances. Just admit Brady’s better in the playoffs. You know it’s true.

  • Richie

    In the Super Bowl era, here are the most common playoff matchups (through last week’s games):

    # Series Leader
    8 Cowboys (4-4) vs Rams
    8 49ers (4-4) vs Giants
    7 Cowboys (5-2) vs 49ers
    7 Cowboys (4-3) vs Vikings
    7 Broncos (4-3) vs Steelers
    7 Packers (4-3) vs 49ers
    7 Vikings (5-2) vs Rams
    6 Steelers (3-3) vs Raiders
    6 Cowboys (4-2) vs Packers
    5 Redskins (3-2) vs Vikings
    5 49ers (4-1) vs Vikings
    5 Steelers (5-0) vs Colts

    The Cowboys-Packers will move into a tie for 3rd-most matchups after this week with 7. Either Patriots-Colts or Patriots-Broncos could have its 5th matchup ever in the championship round.

    Including Super Bowls, the average playoff game has had an average final score of: Winner 28, Loser 15.

  • ammek

    The second Favre vs Young matchup should really come with an asterisk as Young aggravated an injury early in the game and played fewer than a dozen snaps. Favre vs Grbac was a less anticipated duel.