Super Bowl LI in Houston on Sunday will be a throwback matchup in this respect: Neither the Patriots’ nor the Falcons’ quarterback is known for his running ability.
Both New England’s Tom Brady and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan are passers in the traditional mold, mostly looking to make plays through the air.
Each of the last four Super Bowls featured the new breed of passer. In 2013, it was the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. The next two years featured the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, who won the big game once. Last year, it was Cam Newton of the Panthers.
The Brady-Ryan matchup also marks the first time in 32 years the QBs ranked first and second in passer rating will face off in the Super Bowl. Ryan (117.1) led the NFL, followed by Brady (112.2).
By now, everyone knows Brady’s reputation as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. He ranks in the top five all-time in career completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating. With a fifth Super Bowl victory Sunday, the future Hall of Famer will become the winningest quarterback the game’s history.
At 39, Brady remains at the top of his game — and more fresh than usual. A four-game suspension to start the season for his role in the 2015 Deflategate mess had the happy side effect of keeping him fresh. Brady absorbed just 19 sacks in 14 regular- and postseason games, tied for his fewest since 2009. He remains elite at limiting turnovers, leading the league for the second year in a row with a 0.5% interception percentage.
Although not as accomplished as his counterpart, Ryan has been consistently an upper-level quarterback. He could add an MVP trophy to his resume after an impressive campaign. The man known as “Matty Ice” led the NFL in touchdown percentage (7.1%) and yards per attempt (9.3). He established career best marks in passing yards (4,944), touchdown passes (38) and interceptions (7).
Ryan, 31, is coming off perhaps the best performance of his career, throwing for 392 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-21 win over the Packers. His 139.4 passer rating in the NFC Championship Game was the fifth-highest in NFL playoff history.