From the very beginning, the Super Bowl MVP award has been quarterback-centric. Is that surprising? Of course not. That trend continued this year with Patrick Mahomes winning the award for Super Bowl LVII.
There have been some performances that appear rather lackluster that have won the award and there have been historic performances. Here, we rank every Super Bowl MVP based on their game performance. How high does Mahomes’ performance this year rank?
57. Super Bowl VI — QB Roger Staubach, Dallas
Stats: 12 for 19 passing, 119 yards, 2 TDs
This one is a bit mystifying. Dallas running back Duane Thomas, unpopular with the media who select the MVP, was the real star with 95 yards rushing, and the Doomsday Defense dominated.
56. Super Bowl XI — WR Fred Biletnikoff, Oakland
Stats: 4 receptions, 79 yards
Unlike Lynn Swann the previous year, Biletnikoff hardly swung this game in the Raiders’ favor. Oakland’s running game was decisive, with Clarence Davis rushing for 137 yards and Pete Banaszak getting two touchdowns on the ground.
55. Super Bowl XXXVI — QB Tom Brady, New England
Stats: 16 for 27 passing, 145 yards, 1 TD
Not Brady’s best Super Bowl, but he also was a second-year pro and first-season starter. Guiding a late drive to the winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri earned him MVP, but CB Ty Law helping shut down “The Greatest Show on Turf” was just as deserving.
54. Super Bowl XXXVII — S Dexter Jackson, Tampa Bay
Jackson had two of his team’s five interceptions in a 48-21 rout, but the votes were tallied before fellow DB Dwight Smith got the second of his pick-6s late in the fourth quarter. At least a Buccaneers defender got the award.
53. Super Bowl I — QB Bart Starr, Green Bay
Stats: 16 for 23 passing, 250 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Packers faced unmatchable pressure to uphold the supposed superiority of the NFL over the AFL, but Starr was efficient and unflappable. Perhaps backup receiver Max McGee, who didn’t expect to get on the field much and partied the night before, should have been recognized for catching both TD passes after starter Boyd Dowler was injured.
52. Super Bowl II — QB Bart Starr, Green Bay
Stats: 13 for 24 passing, 202 yards, 1 touchdown
Again, Starr was the engineer in the finale of the Packers’ dynasty and the last game Vince Lombardi coached for Green Bay. Don Chandler knocked through four field goals in support.
51. Super Bowl XV — QB Jim Plunkett, Oakland
Stats: 13 for 21 passing, 261 yards, 3 TDs
Plunkett was efficient and clutch, sparking the Raiders with an 80-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Linebacker Rod Martin had three interceptions, but didn’t get the award.
50. Super Bowl XVI — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Stats: 14 for 22, 157 passing, 1 TD
We don’t get this one, as great as Montana was in big games. He helped the 49ers to a quick start against Cincinnati, but Ray Wersching’s four field goals when 49ers drives stalled were the difference.
49. Super Bowl IV — QB Len Dawson, Kansas City
Stats: 12 for 17 passing, 142 yards, 1 TD
Despite the distraction of being mentioned in a gambling investigation, Dawson cleanly guided the Chiefs to the AFL’s second consecutive victory just before the full AFL-NFL merger was completed. Kansas City’s defense dominated to make Dawson’s job easier.
48. Super Bowl LIII — WR Julian Edelman, New England
Stats: 10 receptions, 141 yards
A sloppy game punctuated by strong defense made Edelman the only offensive player who deserved consideration. New England’s defense as a whole warranted recognition.
47. Super Bowl LV — QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay
Stats: 21 for 29 passing, 201 yards, 3 TDs
Say what? TB12 quarterbacking for TB? Yep, and doing what he usually did in Super Bowls. Brady was not spectacular, but his three touchdowns in the first half made this a romp past Kansas City. The Buccaneers made life miserable for Patrick Mahomes, with LB Devin White having 12 tackles, two for losses, and an interception. Brady’s performance at age 43 couldn’t be ignored.
46. Super Bowl XXVI — QB Mark Rypien, Washington
Stats: 18 for 33 passing, 292 yards, 2 TDs
Like Phil Simms a few years earlier, Rypien rose to the heights of his career in a Super Bowl victory. He had plenty of help from potential MVPs in receivers Gary Clark (seven catches, 114 yards, one touchdown) and future Hall of Famer Art Monk (seven for 113 yards). Washington had four interceptions, too.
45. Super Bowl XII — DT Randy White and DE Harvey Martin, Dallas
Martin had two sacks and White added one – yes, we know it was not an official stat yet – as the Dallas defense completely disrupted Denver and former teammate Craig Morton.
44. Super Bowl XXXIII — QB John Elway, Denver
Stats: 18 for 29 passing, 336 yards, 1 TD
Elway capped his Hall of Fame career with a steady demolition of the Dirty Birds of Atlanta. His 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith was the statement play.
43. Super Bowl XXXIX — WR Deion Branch, New England
Stats: 11 receptions, 133 yards
The defense was critical to a three-point victory, while Branch was the key on offense. Though he didn’t get into the end zone, Branch made a bunch of big catches to set up three TDs.
42. Super Bowl LIV — QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
Stats: 26 for 42 passing, 286 yards, 2 TDs; 1 TD rushing
Down 20-10, Kansas City scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to surge past San Francisco. Mahomes had TD passes to Travis Kelce and Damien Williams to secure the Chiefs’ first championship since Super Bowl IV. But Mahomes threw two picks and fumbled twice, and Williams (17 rushes, 104 yards; four receptions; two TDs) deserved a look.
41. Super Bowl XIV — QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh
Stats: 14 for 21 passing, 309 yards, 2 TDs
The Steelers were reeling for much of this game against the Rams, but Bradshaw lifted them in the second half, including a gorgeous 73-yard TD throw to John Stallworth for Pittsburgh’s fourth title in six seasons.
40. Super Bowl XXV — RB Ottis Anderson, N.Y. Giants
Stats: 21 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD
New York’s defense shut down the Buffalo K-Gun attack that had romped through the league, and the Giants controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes with Anderson. He finished a 14-play march that took up 9:29 with his 1-yard scoring run.
39. Super Bowl XIX — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Stats: 24 for 35 passing, 331 yards, 3 TDs
This was supposed to be an epic passing battle between Montana and Dan Marino. But the 49ers defense never allowed it, Montana tore up the Miami defense, and even though Roger Craig became the first player to score three TDs in a Super Bowl, Joe Cool was worthy.
38. Super Bowl XX — DE Richard Dent, Chicago
Dent had 1 ½ sacks against New England, and was at the forefront of a defense some consider the best in Super Bowl history. Chicago allowed seven yards rushing and got seven sacks.
37. Super Bowl X — WR Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh
Stats: 4 receptions, 161 yards, 1 TD
Swann made the clutch receptions, including a 64-yarder for a TD, and averaged more than 40 yards per catch. That’s right, more than 40 yards.
36. Super Bowl XLVII — QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore
Stats: 22 for 33, 287 yards, 3 TDs
Flacco bet on himself, not signing a new contract in the final year of his deal. Then he led the Ravens to the championship, and Baltimore needed everything he did against the 49ers as the defense fell flat in the second half. His three first-half touchdown passes gave the Ravens a lead they barely held.
35. Super Bowl XLI — QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Stats: 25 for 38 passing, 247 yards, 1 TD
In the South Florida rain (halftime performer Prince naturally sang “Purple Rain”), Manning kept a solid Bears defense off balance after Indy fell behind on Devin Hester’s opening 92-yard kickoff return. Seven Colts caught passes, and the running game was strong with Dominic Rhodes (113 yards and a TD) and Joseph Addai (77 yards, plus 10 receptions). But this was Peyton’s Super Bowl.
34. Super Bowl XLV — QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Stats: 24 for 39 passing, 304 yards, 3 TDs
Hard to believe this has been A-Rod’s only Super Bowl trip. He made it a special one for the wild-card Packers, connecting with eight receivers, including his pal Jordy Nelson, who made nine catches for 140 yards and a score.
33. Super Bowl XXXIV — QB Kurt Warner, St. Louis
Stats: 24 for 45 passing, 414 yards, 2 TDs
The fairy tale story of Warner climaxed with his 73-yard TD pass to Isaac Bruce one play from scrimmage after Tennessee tied the score. Just as much a hero was linebacker Mike Jones for his tackle of Kevin Dyson at the Rams 1-yard line as the game ended.
32. Super Bowl VII — S Jake Scott, Miami
Stats: 2 interceptions
As the Dolphins completed their perfect season, the No-Name Defense was recognized for blanking Washington’s offense. One of Scott’s picks came in the end zone.
31. Super Bowl IX — RB Franco Harris, Pittsburgh
Stats: 34 carries, 158 yards, 1 TD
Not much offense in this one, with the only standout being Harris. The entire Steel Curtain was impenetrable for Minnesota, so singling out an MVP appropriately came down to Harris.
30. Super Bowl XLVI — QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants
Stats: 30 for 40, 296 yards, 1 TD
Younger bro Eli got his second ring before Peyton got his. Again, he was magnificent in the clutch against the Patriots, including one of the most memorable passes in Super Bowl history: Manning’s 38-yard dart to Mario Manningham to begin the winning drive.
29. Super Bowl XXXV — LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore
One of the great defenses of the Super Bowl era, the Ravens’ inspiration and superstar was Lewis. In a demolition of the Giants, the future Hall of Famer was in on five tackles and had four passes defensed, a high number for an inside LB.
28. Super Bowl XXXII — RB Terrell Davis, Denver
Stats: 30 carries, 157 yards, 3 TDs
Like Emmitt Smith before him, Davis stamped himself as a future Hall of Famer with a surpassing performance. His three scores on the ground were a record, though the Packers allowed him to score the last one so as not to be beaten on a final-second, chip-shot field goal.
27. Super Bowl XLVIII — LB Malcolm Smith, Seattle
In a 43-8 romp that never was close – the Seahawks got a safety on the first play from scrimmage – Smith paced the Legion of Boom with nine tackles and a 69-yard TD on an interception. A worthy representative of the unit that made the difference.
26. Super Bowl XXX — CB Larry Brown, Dallas
Brown, a journeyman cornerback on a staunch defense, had his star turn with two interceptions of Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell that basically provided the Cowboys’ difference. Each pick set up a touchdown.
25. Super Bowl XXVIII — RB Emmitt Smith, Dallas
Stats: 30 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs
The NFL’s career rushing leader capped one of the all-time great seasons with a stellar Super Bowl. Smith carried seven times for 61 yards on the go-ahead drive, scoring from the 15.
24. Super Bowl XL — WR Hines Ward, Pittsburgh
Stats: 5 receptions, 123 yards, 1 TD
Ward was on the receiving end of a rarity: a halfback pass for a score, by Antwaan Randle El. Ward made several big receptions and blocks, his specialty, while Willie Parker’s record 75-yard sprint to the end zone contributed mightily.
23. Super Bowl XLIV — QB Drew Brees, New Orleans
Stats: 32 for 39 passing, 288 yards, 2 TDs
Nobody would argue that Brees was as accurate as any passer the NFL has seen. In this victory against Peyton Manning and the Colts, he was as precise as ever. Both of his touchdown passes gave the Saints a lead.
22. Super Bowl XLIX — QB Tom Brady, New England
Stats: 37 for 50 passing, 328 yards, 4 TDs
Brady at his best, bringing the Patriots back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit – at the time a record comeback he would obviously erase two years later. Certainly, Malcolm Butler deserves recognition for his interception at the goal line to preserve the victory.
21. Super Bowl XXVII — QB Troy Aikman, Dallas
Stats: 22 for 30 passing, 273 yards, 4 TDs
Even with Dallas forcing Buffalo into nine turnovers – you read that correctly, nine – Aikman was a solid choice. Establishing himself as a future Hall of Famer, Aikman twice hit Michael Irvin for scores to pull the Cowboys away from the bumbling Bills.
20. Super Bowl XLII — QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants
Stats: 19 for 34 passing, 255 yards, 2 TDs
The second half of the brother act, and a well-deserved honor solidified by his Houdini escape leading to David Tyree’s “helmet catch.” Can’t forget the tense environment as New York attempted to and succeeded in ending New England’s perfect season. Manning was cool as could be through it all.
19. Super Bowl V — LB Chuck Howley, Dallas
Stats: 2 interceptions, 3 tackles
The end of the QB MVP streak – and the only player on a losing squad to get the award. Howley clearly was the best player on the field in perhaps the sloppiest of Super Bowls.
18. Super Bowl III — QB Joe Namath, N.Y. Jets
Stats: 17 for 28 passing, 206 yards
The guarantee alone probably earned Namath many votes, and his cool dissection of the vaunted Baltimore defense was impressive. So was Matt Snell rushing for 121 yards and the only TD, and Jim Turner’s three field goals.
17. Super Bowl XXXVIII — QB Tom Brady, New England
Stats: 32 for 48 passing, 354 yards, 3 TDs
Another Super Bowl win on a late field goal by Adam Vinatieri, but Brady was the focal point. Previously, the Patriots often won with a run-oriented offense and a solid D. This game indicated a change, with Brady becoming the catalyst.
16. Super Bowl XLIII — WR Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh
Stats: 9 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD
If Holmes’ fingertip, toe-tapping 6-yard touchdown catch for the win isn’t the best catch in Super Bowl annals, it’s close. Throughout the game, in which Arizona rallied from down 20-7 to take the lead, Holmes was the go-to Steeler. And the game changer.
15. Super Bowl XXII — QB Doug Williams, Washington
Stats: 18 for 29 passing, 340 yards, 4 TDs
The first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Williams destroyed Denver’s defense in the second quarter, when Washington scored five touchdowns. Timmy Smith rushed for a Super Bowl-record 204 yards, but Williams set the tone with scoring throws of 80 and 50 yards to Ricky Sanders.
14. Super Bowl XXIII — WR Jerry Rice, San Francisco
Stats: 11 receptions, 215 yards, 1 TD
Pro football’s greatest receiver – some say its greatest player – made three catches for 51 yards on the winning drive in the final moments. John Taylor got the payoff TD, but Rice had the other touchdown in the Niners’ 20-16 victory.
13. Super Bowl XXI — QB Phil Simms, N.Y. Giants
Stats: 22 for 25 passing, 268 yards, 3 TDs
How about having the game of your life on the biggest stage? That was Simms, whose accuracy led to a 150.9 passer rating and a 30-point second half.
12. Super Bowl XXXI — KR/PR Desmond Howard, Green Bay
Stats: 244 return yards, 99-yard kickoff return TD
The only special teamer to win the award, and there’s little argument he deserved it. Sure, Brett Favre threw for two scores and ran for one, but Howard’s 99-yarder catapulted the Packers to their first NFL title since Super Bowl II.
11. Super Bowl XVIII — RB Marcus Allen, L.A. Raiders
Stats: 20 carries, 191 yards, 2 TDs
Like John Riggins, Allen was the only choice. And like Riggins, he had an iconic play: A weaving 74-yard touchdown gallop on the final snap of the third period.
10. Super Bowl LVII — QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
Stats: 21 for 27 passing, 182 yards, 3 TDs; 44 rushing yards
Although his offensive linemen probably deserved the recognition, which never happens on such a stage, Mahomes’ courage, savvy and, well, magic was decisive. He hobbled off the field late in the first half after aggravating his right ankle injury, grimacing in pain. Yet he was back behind center in the second half, torching a Philadelphia defense that had 70 sacks heading into the game. They never got to him, and his late scramble set up the winning field goal with eight seconds remaining.
9. Super Bowl LI — QB Tom Brady, New England
Stats: 43 for 62 passing, 466 yards, 2 TDs
Any time a quarterback throws 60 times, even 50 times, that is worrisome. Brady had no choice as the Patriots fell behind 28-3. Then it was lights out for the Falcons, who couldn’t stop the biggest rally in a Super Bowl. For all of his superlative moments, this was No. 1 for Brady.
8. Super Bowl LVI — WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Stats: 8 receptions, 92 yards, 2 TDs
Kupp was the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, and he emphasized that with a slew of big plays. On the Rams’ winning drive, he had four receptions, including the 1-yard TD throw from Matthew Stafford with 1:25 remaining. Kupp also soared even after LA’s other top wideout, Odell Beckham Jr., tore up his knee earlier in the game.
7. Super Bowl LII — QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia
Stats: 28 for 43 passing, 373 yards, 3 TDs, 1 TD reception
Never forget that final stat: Foles catching the Philly Special pass from tight end Trey Burton near the end of the first half. The unwavering confidence of coach Doug Pederson in his backup QB, and Foles rewarding it against Tom Brady and the Patriots, provided a seminal moment in Super Bowl annals.
6. Super Bowl L — LB Von Miller, Denver
With six tackles 2 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles, Miller was, well, a force awakened as the NFL celebrated a half-century of Super Bowls. The Broncos shut down Carolina and league MVP Cam Newton, with Miller at the forefront, and Peyton Manning retired a champion.
5. Super Bowl VIII — RB Larry Csonka, Miami
Stats: 33 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs
No arguing this one. If coach Don Shula could have run the ball on every play, he might have, with Csonka trampling tacklers. Miami rushed for 196 yards overall and all three touchdowns.
4. Super Bowl XIII — QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh
Stats: 17 for 30 passing, 318 yards, 4 TDs
A no-brainer as Bradshaw had, to this point, the most prolific passing day in Super Bowl history. In The 33rd Team’s top-ranked Super Bowl, Bradshaw won a shootout with Roger Staubach, connecting twice for TDs with John Stallworth, once each with Rocky Bleier and Lynn Swann.
3. Super Bowl XVII — RB John Riggins, Washington
Stats: 38 carries, 166 yards, 1 TD
To call the unpredictable Riggins a nonconformist would be an understatement. Toting a football, however, he was a powerhouse, and he displayed his speed on a fourth-down 43-yard TD run for the winning points. Washington rushed for 276 yards.
2. Super Bowl XXIV — QB Joe Montana, San Francisco
Stats: 22 for 29 passing, 297 yards, 5 TDs
Him again. Montana got his third MVP honor, and there was no arguing this one. In his final Super Bowl, Montana led the biggest rout the game has seen, and it probably could have been worse had San Francisco kept the throttle down.
1. Super Bowl XXIX — QB Steve Young, San Francisco
Stats: 24 for 36 passing, 325 yards, 6 TDs
No quarterback, and possibly no player, has had a more productive Super Bowl than Young did in tearing apart San Diego. And don’t forget that Young was in the shadow of Joe Montana and his championship achievements before this magnificent performance. A spectacular showing under pressure.