Although it is uncommon, backup quarterbacks in the NFL have had some success when it comes to the Lombardi Trophy.
At least one team in the Super Bowl this year will start a quarterback who was initially a backup this year, as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is one victory away from adding his name to a short list of second–string signal callers who have won it all.
Here are the quarterbacks that came off the pine to lead their teams to victory.
• Earl Morrall, Super Bowl V - Colts vs. Cowboys
Morrall took over for the Colts after Johnny Unitas was knocked out in the second quarter of Super Bowl V. Baltimore still trailed by seven entering the fourth quarter, but the Colts scored the game's final 10 points, including a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Jim O'Brien as time expired. Morrall went 7/15 for 147 yards and one interception in the game.
• Roger Staubach, Super Bowl VI - Cowboys vs. Dolphins
Craig Morton started the season for Dallas and team continued to play musical chairs at the quarterback position until Tom Landry made the permanent switch to Staubach midway through the season. With Staubach at the helm, Dallas won their last seven games and rolled through the playoffs. Roger Staubach threw for 119 yards and two touchdowns and was named the MVP after a 24-3 thumping of the Dolphins.
• Terry Bradshaw, Super Bowl IX - Steelers vs. Vikings
Bradshaw was a spectator for the team's first four games as Pittsburgh started the 1974 season with Joe Gilliam at quarterback. Bradshaw managed the offense and relied on the league's top defense to secure their first Super Bowl title. Bradshaw wasn't asked to do much in Super Bowl IX, throwing for 96 yards and a score as the Steelers ran for 249 yards, led by MVP Franco Harris' then Super Bowl record 158 yards.
• Jim Plunkett, Super Bowl XV - Raiders vs. Eagles
It isn't true that you can't lose your position due to injury, and Plunkett proved that in 1980. Plunkett, a former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick, has languished in the league for almost a decade and got an opportunity when starter Dan Pastorini injured his leg. The Raiders made the playoffs as a wild card beating the Oilers, Browns and Chargers in route to the big game and Plunkett's 261 yards and three touchdowns guided the Raiders to their second Super Bowl triumph.
• Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII - Redskins vs. Broncos
Williams, another journeyman looking to prove he belonged, spent a part of the 1987 strike-shortened regular season watching Jay Schroeder take the snaps. But Schroeder was ineffective most of the year, leading Joe Gibbs to call on Williams. Williams, who was the first black quarterback to start a Super Bowl, torched the Broncos defense completing 18 of 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns. In the second quarter alone, Washington scored 35 points on only 19 plays from scrimmage and had 356 yards of total offense. The Redskins' five scoring drives in the second took a total of five minutes and 57 seconds.
• Jeff Hostetler, Super Bowl XXV - Giants vs. Bills
Phil Simms broke his foot in Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills and Hostetler, who had thrown a grand total of 25 passes in 1990 before replacing Simms was called on to guide the Giants into the playoffs. Hostetler won the team's final two starts and both playoff games, including an epic NFC Championship battle against the San Francisco 49ers. In the Super Bowl, with the backdrop of the Persian Gulf War on everyone's mind, the Giants held the ball for 40 minutes and secured the win after Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard kick, which went wide right, that could have won the game. Hostetler was efficient against Buffalo, going 20/32 for 222 yards and a touchdown.
• Kurt Warner, Super Bowl XXXIV - Rams vs. Titans
All thought the season was lost when free-agent acquisition Trent Green hurt his knee in the preseason. But on came former grocery store stocker Kurt Warner, who proceeded to light up the NFL in 1999, throwing for 41 touchdowns en route to being named the league's MVP. The Rams won 13 games and Warner threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns leading St. Louis to a 23–16 win and the team's first Super Bowl title.
• Trent Dilfer, Super Bowl XXXV - Ravens vs. Giants
Baltimore actually had a winning record when coach Brian Billick made the switch from Tony Banks to Dilfer. But make no mistake about it, it was the Ravens defense that carried them through, setting an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16–game season. Dilfer made plays when needed, including a 38-yard strike to Brandon Stokley in the first quarter of the Super Bowl. The Ravens piled on from there, forcing five turnovers in a 34-7 beatdown. Dilfer completed less than half of his passes in the game, but he left Tampa with a Super Bowl ring and a broken hand suffered during the contest.
• Tom Brady, Super Bowl XXXVI - Patriots vs. Rams
The Patriots dynasty as you now know it started in Week 2 of the 2001 season when New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis knocked out Drew Bledsoe, allowing a sixth-round backup quarterback out of Michigan an opportunity to take over. Tom Brady guided the Pats to 11 victories and the AFC East crown. New England came into Super Bowl XXXVI a two-touchdown underdog to the Rams, who had the league's best record. The Patriots defense held the Rams in check for the most part and Brady led a game-winning drive ending in Adam Vinatieri's game-winning 48-yard field goal with no time left. Brady was named the game's MVP after throwing for 145 yards and a touchdown.