Come Super Bowl time, the "S" on Terry Bradshaw's sideline cap essentially stood for Superman.
For whatever the reason, many Super Bowl "experts" dismiss Bradsahw's Super Bowl performances in favor of Montana's efforts in his Super Bowl triumphs. While Montana was certainly a standout performer on the game's biggest stage, one could make a very strong argument that Bradshaw is still the best Super Bowl quarterback ever.
Here's three reasons that argue Bradshaw's case:
1) Bradshaw faced tougher defenses: The Blonde Bomber faced and defeated Minnesota's famed Purple People Eaters in Super Bowl IX, the Steelers first of four Super Bowl victories in six years. He then defeated the Cowboys' downright scary Doomsday Defense twice, the first time in Super Bowl X and again three years later in Super Bowl XIII. A year after thrashing the Broncos to the tune of 35 passing yards and four interceptions in Super Bowl XII, Dallas was carved up by Bradshaw, who threw for a then-Super Bowl record 318 passing yards to go with four touchdown passes to win the game's MVP. In his final Super Bowl win, Bradshaw threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns against a Rams defense that had allowed just 19 points in its two playoff games prior to Super Bowl XIV.
While the Bengals' defenses of 1981 and '88 were tough, they were nothing like the defenses Bradshaw faced in his four Super Bowl wins. And the 1984 Dolphins defense that Montana carved up in Super Bowl XIX? They allowed 28 points two weeks earlier to a Steelers defense quarterbacked by the immortal Mark Malone. Finally, Montana's 297-yard, five touchdown performance in Super Bowl XXIV was against a dreadful Broncos defense that had allowed 39 and 42 points respectively in their previous two Super Bowls (Super Bowls XXI and XXII).
2) Montana had more help on offense: Bradshaw's running games were downright awful save a few plays in his final three Super Bowl wins. The Steelers averaged just 3.2 yards per carry in Super Bowl X, 2.8 yards a rush in Super Bowl XIII and a futile 2.3 yards a carry in Super Bowl XIV. The 49ers averaged 5.3 and 4.1 yards per rush against the Dolphins and Bengals in Super Bowls XIX and XXIII, and even though their average slipped to 3.3 yards in Super Bowl XXIV, Roger Craig and Tom Rathman combined to rush for a respectable 107 yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns in that game. Simply put, the opposing defenses took away Bradshaw's running games in three of his four Super Bowls. There was less help and more pressure on Bradshaw, especially late in the Super Bowl games, to deliver for his team, and each time, Bradshaw delivered.
1) Bradshaw dominated fourth quarters: Montana threw a total of 22 passes in the fourth quarter in his four Super Bowl victories. Take away his masterful 11-of-14, two touchdown fourth quarter performance in Super Bowl XXIII, Montana threw just eight passes with zero touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls, with just one pass having any significance in the game (a 22-yard completion in Super Bowl XVI led to the final three points in the 49ers 26-21 win over Cincinnati). Bradshaw, meanwhile, engineered eight fourth quarter scoring drives in Super Bowl competition that included four game-winning touchdown passes.
Pittsburgh trailed in Super Bowls X and XIV heading into the fourth quarter, in which Bradshaw led five total scoring drives in those games to secure Steelers victories. Bradshaw threw a 61-yard touchdown bomb to Lynn Swann to win Super Bowl X and a 73-yard scoring strike to John Stallworth to put Pittsburgh ahead to stay in Super Bowl XIV. Up 28-17 and looking for the knockout, Bradshaw found Swann for an 18-yard touchdown pass to secure the Steelers' win over Dallas in Super Bowl XIII.
To further strengthen Bradshaw's case is the fact that Montana enjoyed the comfort of Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense that was predicated on short, precise, high-percentage pass plays that resulted in Montana's longest Super Bowl pass being just 44 yards. Bradshaw, on the other hand, took his changes (and succeed) by throwing deep into the heart of the defenses in his final three Super Bowl wins. Bradshaw completed four passes that were caught 40 yards past the line of scrimmage in those games, which excludes Stallworth's 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter of Super Bowl XIII that was caught about 12 yards past the line of scrimmage.
While Montana was pure magic while directing the 11-play, 92-yard game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII that culminated in his 10-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining, Bradshaw was (and needed to be) masterful in all four of his Super Bowl games in the fourth quarters, which is the most compelling reason why he still remains the best Super Bowl quarterback.