|Quarterback rematch? That doesn't bode well for Brady. (Getty Images)|
INDIANAPOLIS -- Fact: only twice before this year has a Super Bowl featured a rematch of quarterbacks. Eli Manning and Tom Brady will be the third such rematch, and it seems relevant to examine what kind of success the other guys had when they squared off the second time, in advance of Sunday's tilt.
Of course, we need to know who went head-to-head first. Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers and Roger Staubach of the Cowboys battled the first time, way back when the Super Bowl only got one Roman numeral (X). They met again in Super Bowl XIII. And Troy Aikman of the Cowboys met Jim Kelly of the Bills twice during the Fire Marshall Bill Halftime Era.
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If you know much about the NFL, you can make an educated guess as to how these sort of rematches play out for the guy who lost the first game. (A: Not well.) Bradshaw's one of only two quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins; Joe Montana is the other. (Although a Brady win on Sunday would net him a fourth.)
And those Jim Kelly squads were great up until the "Big Game" -- four straight AFC Championships netted exactly zero Super Bowl wins. That, by the by, is a reminder of how fleeting these moments are, and why winning them matters more than anyone who doesn't play the game will every know.
Anyway, Super Bowl X took place on January 18, 1976 in Miami. Bradshaw's Steelers toppled the Cowboys 21-17. Bradshaw was nine of 19 (!) for 209 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Staubach was 15 of 24 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The NFL presents a slightly different game these days, huh?
When they two matched up again three years later, Bradshaw was substantially more effective in his second win, going 17 of 30 for 318 yards, four touchdowns and one pick in a 35-31 win. Staubach was no slouch either, completing 17 of 30 passes too. He only threw for 228 yards but did have three teeters and a pick.
Aikman and Kelly squared off for the first time in Super Bowl XXVII, a 52-17 blowout for the Cowboys. (Michael Jackson performed both "Billie Jean" and "Black and White" at this game, which is equal parts awesome and ... aging.)
Kelly suffered an injury in this game, so Frank Reich led the Bills with 194 passing yards, one touchdown and a pick. Kelly threw two picks despite leaving early; the Bills coughed up an awkward nine turnovers in the loss. As you would imagine, that could have eliminated the need for the Cowboys to produce eye-popping stats, but Aikman threw for four touchdowns anyway.
When the two met a year later at the Georgia Dome, the result was different, but still the same. Aikman threw for 207 yards and no touchdowns, while Kelly produced 260 yards and zero touchdowns as well. A series of field goals and/or rushing touchdowns provided the scoring and neither quarterback was particularly effective, from a statistical sense.
So which direction does 2012 take? Logic (and a 55-point over/under in Vegas) says the former. Brady and Manning should see more success than Kelly and Aikman saw in their rematch.
Even though the Giants pass rush is ferocious, neither defense is absolutely elite, while both offenses are the definition of potent. Regardless, the short history of quarterback rematches in the Super Bowl doesn't exactly favor Brady. Then again, shattering NFL playoff trends isn't exactly something new for the Patriots signal caller.
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