|Posted on May 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM|
“Anybody can play when there’s really nothing at stake, regardless of the game, regardless of the situation. I really think the measure of the player is how well he plays under pressure when you have to win.” -Bart Starr
Where Unitas' passer rating sunk from 78.2 in the regular season to 68.9 in the postseason (-9.3), Starr's rose from 80.5 to 104.8 (+24.3). Unitas was the regular season master—winning three league MVP awards (1959, 1965, 1967) to Starr's one (1966). But what's more important: individual awards or championships? To make matters more interesting, Unitas' postseason performance plummeted after 1959. His 1970 wild card win over the Bengals stands out as the lone positive outlier.Unitas (postseason career): 120 of 226 (53.1) for 1,663 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 68.9 passer rating.Starr (postseason career): 130 of 213 (61.0) for 1,753 yards, 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 104.8 passer rating.
Unitas (postseason after 1959): 76 of 157 (48.4) for 1,050 yards, 4 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. 54.9 passer rating.Unitas (six of nine postseason games): 70 of 140 (50.0) for 905 yards, 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. 48.7 passer rating.
Unitas was much like Sammy Baugh in the same way that Starr was much like Sid Luckman—with the latter's superior postseason performance leading to more rings. History recognizes Baugh and Unitas as the two finest quarterbacks of their generations, and the QBS system backs up that notion. Unitas' career QBS of 249.5 far surpasses Starr's 109.0. Yet, it is Starr who was the perennial "winner" who would have been glorified ten-fold has he played during the 21st century.
Unitas was the better quarterback—by a country mile. Only his postseason resumé, in totality, is largely overlooked and would not pass for G.O.A.T. caliber by today's very flawed standard of analytics.