Beware: Pats have lost to non-elite QBs in playoffs before
How perceived ‘bad QBs’ have done in playoffs vs. Pats
Know who probably isn’t going to beat the Patriots Saturday? Brock Osweiler. Not with the way he’s played this season, and not with the discrepancy in the quality of his team compared to New England’s.
Osweiler, who of course does have one victory against the Pats under his belt from his days in Denver, had a dreadful first regular season in Houston. He threw more picks than touchdowns (16 to 15) and was benched late in the season before reclaiming his starting job when Tom Savage was pulled in Week 17 due to concussion symptoms. Last week, he completed 15-of-25 passes for 168 yards with two total TDs (one passing, one rushing) and no picks against a mediocre Raiders defense, but the book on Osweiler this season has already been written: He kind of sucks.
This isn’t the first time the Patriots have gone into a playoff game against a quarterback perceived to be anywhere from not-a-threat to not-even-good. Despite the Patriots taking the better quarterback into each game, however, they haven’t won all of them.
2015 AFC Championship: Peyton Manning
Broncos 20, Patriots 18
Don’t call this a hot take, idiot. Manning is one of the three greatest quarterbacks of all time, but 2015 Peyton Manning was “You used to be Mel Clark?” Peyton Manning. Prior to being replaced by Osweiler during a Week 10 loss, Manning had nine touchdowns with a whopping 17 interceptions on the season. His performances featured more ducks than an alcoholic Minneapolis lawyer’s community service punishment.
After missing six straight weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, Manning returned in Week 17 and was named the playoff starter. While Denver’s defense was certainly to be feared, the offense was not and Manning was a primary reason for that.
Manning didn’t throw a touchdown or a pick in the divisional round against the Steelers and totaled an unremarkable 222 yards in completing 21-of-37 passing attempts. He wasn’t very good against the Patriots either (17-of-32 for 176 yards), but he threw two touchdowns and no picks while Tom Brady was sacked four times and picked twice in a 20-18 Broncos win.
2012 divisional round: Matt Schaub
Patriots 41, Texans 28
Overall, Schaub wasn’t a bad quarterback during his Texans tenure, but he never fit into the NFL’s higher quarterback tiers.
In 2012, he finished tied for 15th in touchdowns (22), 11th in passing yards (4,008) and had 12 picks. The 2012 season was the first and only season in which the former (now current) Falcon played in the postseason, and he came into the divisional round in New England having thrown no touchdowns with one pick in Houston’s Wild Card win over the Bengals.
Schaub was outplayed by Tom Brady in the Patriots’ 41-28 win, but that doesn’t mean he played poorly. A second-half interception in an 11-point game ended up doing the Texans in, giving that the Pats scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive, but Schaub threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in what was an unsuccessful comeback attempt. He finished the game having completed 34-of-51 passes for 343 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.
2011 divisional round: Tim Tebow
Patriots 45, Broncos 10
This was the season in which the Lions were super-duper mean to Tim Tebow after that 45-10 Detroit win in Denver. A Lions defensive player called his status as a starter a “joke.” Super mean stuff.
While Tebow’s regular-season passing numbers were pretty much nonexistent (an average of 144 passing yards per game, total touchdowns and six picks; he did run for six TDs), he was coming off some Wild Card round heroics against the Steelers. Tebow threw two touchdowns, ran for another with no picks and threw for a career-high 316 passing yards in the overtime win. That game featured the highlight of his NFL career in the form of an 80-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
There would be no such heroics against New England. He completed just 9 of 26 passes for 136 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, though he did lose a fumble. Brady threw six touchdowns and the Pats ran away with a 45-10 victory.
2010 divisional round: Mark Sanchez
Jets 28, Patriots 21
Mark Sanchez always kind of sucked but he and Rex Ryan always had the Patriots’ attention.
Sanchez had already performed well in two of four career meetings with the Pats, so there was at least some chance he’d play more like he did in Week 2 of that season (three touchdowns, no picks in a 28-14 Jets win) than he did in Week 13 of that season (no touchdowns, three picks in a 45-3 Pats win).
In one of the bigger upsets of the Belichick era, Sanchez was indeed non-sucky Sanchez. Though he didn’t throw for 200 yards (194 on 16-of-25 passing), Sanchez threw three touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over once in a 28-21 Jets win.
The guys you probably think belong on this list
Alex Smith, 2015: Oh no you don’t. Nobody goes into a playoff game against Alex Smith thinking he'll hand the game over. Guy has 11 touchdown passes and one pick in five postseason games. Alex Smith: good player.
David Garrard, 2007: Garrard was Smith-like in his ability to not put up crazy numbers, good or bad. In 12 games that season, he threw only three picks.
Byron Leftwich, 2005: Eh, maybe you have a point on this one. Probably similar to Schaub in the 2012 season, Leftwich was considered decent, but beatable in that 2005 season. He came into that game having gone four games without a pick, too. Also the whole broken-tibia-carried-down-the-field-at-Marshall thing. No one ever brings that up about Byron Leftwich.