Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk fell into the same trap that way too many writers fall into when comparing Terry Bradshaw to superstar and/or Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have come after him.
They compare his stats (apples) to theirs (oranges) without taking the differences in the eras into account. Smith found lots of ugly stats from some of Bradshaw’s post season games and he makes the mistake of saying that Bradshaw had little to do with the Steelers’ first two Super Bowl wins.
Johnny Unitas had 7 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in the post season and put up a 68 passer rating. Quarterbacks took all their snaps from under center in those days. They had two running backs lined up behind them and rarely had more than two wide receivers in the formation. And their offensive lineman had to keep their hands off of pass rushers. There was a penalty called illegal use of the hands. And defenders could knock receivers on their asses whenever they felt like it as long as the ball wasn’t in the air.
When those rules were changed to the ones that Manning plays under now Bradshaw put up great numbers. It’s scary to think what Bradshaw, who did EVERYTHING better than Manning would do in today’s flag football offenses.
You know how many touchdown passes Joe Namath threw in that famous Super Bowl win over the Colts? None. You know what his completion percentage was the week before in the AFC championship game? 38%. The Jets won the game. His career post season completion percentage was 42%. Namath, like Bradshaw, threw the ball downfield. There was no dinking and dunking.
In 1972, on the way to winning the Super Bowl, Roger Staubach, who also did EVERYTHING better than Manning, threw for 99, 103, 119 yards and had a total of three touchdown passes in three games. In 1978, the first season under the new rules, Staubach was 7-17 and 13-25 in the two playoff games before losing to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.
You just can’t compare Bradshaw to modern quarterbacks with stats alone. The guys today are playing a completely different game. Compare Bradshaw to his contemporaries and he looks just fine.