AFC East: Roger Staubach
Already, he has tied the NFL record for postseason road victories.
Sanchez raised his road playoff record to 4-1 with the New York Jets' colossal victory over the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.
He's tied with Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Jake Delhomme and Joe Flacco for the most all-time. Super Bowls aren't factored into the stat because they're neutral-site games with no home team.
Sanchez has won as many road playoff games in his career as Brett Favre (three) and Dan Marino (one) combined.
Sanchez completed 16 of his 25 attempts for 194 yards and three touchdowns. He posted a 127.3 passer rating. He became only the second quarterback to throw for at least three touchdowns without an interception against the Patriots in the postseason. Delhomme did it for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Only one quarterback had that kind of performance against the Patriots in the regular season. That was Sanchez, too, in a Week 2 victory at the Meadowlands.
SI.com decided to find out and produced a list sure to create debate. The package, which includes plenty of vintage photos, was published Wednesday.
SI.com's Richard Deitsch explained the process:
A team of SI.com's finest numerologists crunched the data on jersey numbers to come up with the best performers in professional football at each number from 00 to 99. We based our decision on a combination of impact on the game, statistics and team success during the player's time wearing that number.
Here are the AFC East fellows who made the rundown from 00 to 99 ...
4. Brett Favre, Jets quarterback: Hey, he spent a season there.
12. Tom Brady, Patriots quarterback: Deitsch called this the toughest call over Terry Bradshaw. There's also Joe Namath and Roger Staubach.
13. Dan Marino, Dolphins quarterback: This selection was listed among the eight simplest to make.
23. Troy Vincent, Patriots and Bills defensive back: Next runner-up was Mel Gray.
39. Larry Csonka, Dolphins running back: Selected ahead of Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny and Patriots fullback Sam Cunningham.
55. Junior Seau, Dolphins and Patriots linebacker: Willie McGinest and Joey Porter mentioned as "worthy of consideration."
57. Dwight Stephenson, Dolphins center: Thin crew when Bart Scott was in the all-time mix.
62. Jim Langer, Dolphins center: Name another No. 62. Quick!
67. Reggie McKenzie, Bills guard: Member of O.J. Simpson's famed Electric Company, but ahead of Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg?
73. John Hannah, Patriots guard: Other AFC East runners-up include Joe Klecko and Bob Baumhower.
The project was created to celebrate the 75th draft, which will begin April 22. Fans can vote through April 18.
On Thursday, the NFL provided a rundown of the 20 who've received the most votes so far. The list indicated a popularity contest, not an actual consideration for draft value. One player among the list of 20, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, was taken later than 82nd overall.
Not in the top 20? Pro Football Hall of Famers Deacon Jones, Roger Staubach, Ken Houston or Rayfield Wright, who were selected in the 14th, 10th, ninth and seventh rounds.
Also absent were former league MVPs Mark Moseley (14th round), Brian Sipe (13th round), Larry Brown (ninth round) and Terrell Davis (sixth round). Six-time Pro Bowler L.C. Greenwood (10th round), five-time Pro Bowler Tom Nalen (seventh round) and Bo Jackson (seventh round) weren't there either.
So I set out to post my own list on the blog.
I didn't get far.
Soon after I began sketching out my list, I noticed the ballot doesn't offer Wright as an option to begin with.
NFL.com set up the project by creating the pool, 10 players from each team. Wright didn't make the cut. Another omission was Steve Largent, a fourth-round selection who retired as the all-time receptions leader.
The Houston Oilers drafted Largent. The Oilers/Tennessee Titans' list did, however, include Derrick Mason. And for those who might think Largent shouldn't qualify because he didn't play for the Oilers, know that kicker Gary Anderson is listed for the Buffalo Bills, tackle Leon Gray for the Miami Dolphins and punter Craig Hentrich for the New York Jets.
I gave up on the endeavor, but needed to expunge that draft-ranking jones from my system.
Thankfully, I found an outlet at BuffaloBills.com. It's running a satisfactory all-time draft poll that instructs visitors to "Select the 10 players you feel provided the team with the most value." So Anderson isn't an option.
Here's my Bills list:
1. Thurman Thomas, second round
2. Andre Reed, fourth round
3. Bruce Smith, first round
4. Jim Kelly, first round
5. O.J. Simpson, first round
6. George Saimes, sixth round (AFL)
7. Tom Sestak, 17th round (AFL)
8. Howard Ballard, 11th round
9. Darryl Talley, second round
10. Joe Ferguson, third round
Now I feel better.
The Bills' official list will be revealed April 22 at a season-ticket holder draft party.
MPS/US PresswireTom Brady is a two-time Super Bowl MVP -- but he hasn't reached legendary status yet, according to one analyst.
Cold, Hard Football Facts kingpin Kerry J. Byrne rolls out all the statistical data from the 20 quarterbacks who've played in more than one Super Bowl and ranks them purely on how they performed on the biggest stage.
Reputation doesn't matter one iota. That's why Jim Plunkett is slotted waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of John Elway.
Byrne breaks them down into four categories -- Legends, Champions, Cling-ons and Gimps -- and backs up the ranking, complete with a spreadsheet that lists all of their stats.
1. Joe Montana
2. Terry Bradshaw
3. Jim Plunkett
4. Troy Aikman
5. Bart Starr
6. Tom Brady
7. Brett Favre
8. Roger Staubach
9. Kurt Warner
10. Len Dawson
11. Peyton Manning
12. Bob Griese
13. Ben Roethlisberger
14. John Elway
15. Joe Theismann
16. Jim Kelly
17. Fran Tarkenton
18. John Unitas
19. Earl Morrall
20. Craig Morton
|Bills legends Ralph Wilson Jr. and Bruce Smith were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night.|
CANTON, Ohio -- There was little doubt what anyone who stepped to the microphone needed to do to get a reaction from the crowd at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night in Fawcett Stadium.
Roger Staubach is no dummy. When he wanted to generate more applause for Bob Hayes' family, he announced they were from Buffalo. They aren't, but Staubach knew his audience.
Carl Peterson, the former Kansas City Chiefs executive who spoke for the late Derrick Thomas, made it a point to remind everyone Marty Schottenheimer played for the Buffalo Bills back in the day. Schottenheimer, already an emotional mess from listening to the memories of the great linebacker, trembled even more when the fans cheered.
And when Rich Eisen tried to tell some jokes about Rod Woodson and heard crickets, he should have just pumped his fist into the air and screamed "Buffalo!" Then he would have gotten a response. A big one.
Canton is the new South Buffalo this weekend.
Fans made the four-hour drive to watch two more of their Bills -- founder Ralph Wilson Jr. and defensive end Bruce Smith -- get inducted.
On Sunday night, the current Bills will play the Tennessee Titans in the annual Hall of Fame Game. It will be the Bills debut for future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens.
Of the 12,695 fans in attendance Saturday night, a third reportedly hailed from the 716 area code.
|AP Photo/Tony Dejak|
|Buffalo fans were in full force at Saturday's Hall of Fame inductions.|
Not even a steady afternoon rain would deter them. Diehards wearing jerseys of almost every former Bills star you could imagine streamed into town to hear Wilson and Smith deliver speeches in their yellow jackets.
"Certainly feels like a home game," Smith said with a smile after he walked to the lectern. Calls of "Bruuuuuuuuuce" cascaded from the concrete bleachers.
Wilson and Smith bookended the evening. Wilson's presenter, ESPN's Chris Berman, played to the crowd by asking them to recite their favorite catchphrase with him: "No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills."
After Randall McDaniel, Hayes, Woodson and Thomas were honored, Smith went last.
His presenter, former Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, asked all the Bills who played on those Super Bowl teams to stand. Of course, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Marv Levy were on the stage. Mixed among the crowd were Darryl Talley, Andre Reed, Steve Tasker, Kent Hull, Will Wolford and others.
Bills fans, who haven't seen their team in the playoffs since the 1999 season, wistfully cheered each name as it was announced.
Smith's speech was wonderfully paced. He paid homage to his family and his mentors. He thanked the Washington Redskins and his agent. He mentioned each of his doctors by name.
Then, about 12 minutes into his speech, when he was supposed to be wrapping it up, he really got started, heaping praise on Buffalo.
"What a ride it was," Smith said before ticking off the accomplishments: four straight AFC titles, the K-Gun offense, the Comeback Game.
"And the record-breaking attendance set by the greatest fans in the NFL," Smith said.
Fawcett Stadium erupted.
"Thurman Thomas, you're undoubtedly the most complete running back of our era," Smith said while lauding his former mates. "My life would be a little less right if I didn't have you to laugh and joke with.
"P.S. I hid your helmet."
Fawcett Stadium erupted again. Without so many Bills fans in attendance, the crickets probably would have resumed chirping.
CANTON, Ohio -- What a night it should be at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The class of 2009 will be inducted in Fawcett Stadium, and I'll be on scene to chat with you live, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and staying on until the final tear has been shed. Perhaps by me.
I like to think of the format we're using tonight as a mosh chat.
I'll be joined by AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, AFC North blogger James Walker, NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas and ESPN.com NFL editor John Banks in what should turn into a chaterrific free-for-all that will include live Q&A, on-site reports, polls and remembrances about the greatest players football has known.
Here is the scheduled order of enshrinement (with presenter in parentheses):
- Ralph Wilson (Chris Berman)
- Randall McDaniel (O.K. Fulton)
- Bob Hayes (Roger Staubach)
- Rod Woodson (Tracy Foster)
- Derrick Thomas (Carl Peterson)
- Bruce Smith (Ted Cottrell)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
|Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images|
|Tom Brady has guided the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles.|
Readers' pick: Tom Brady, QB
With the exception of young franchises such as the Houston Texans or Baltimore Ravens, active players can be difficult to vote for as the greatest ever. Their careers are still unfolding, their legacies changeable.
Despite 48 years of players, Tom Brady's career towers over all other New England Patriots.
Part of Brady's colossal stature is that only two career Patriots -- guard John Hannah and outside linebacker Andre Tippett -- have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But even a crowded field would have trouble touching Brady.
Through their first 42 years the Patriots won zero championships. Brady has since guided them to three Super Bowl titles, claiming the game's MVP award twice. That's enough to cement his status as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Brady last year directed perhaps the most merciless offense in NFL history. He threw for a record 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, propelling the Patriots to an unprecedented 16-0 regular-season record and two playoff victories. His ankle injury in the Super Bowl played a role in their inability to close out their perfect campaign.
He owns the best winning percentage (.782) of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era, higher than Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr. Brady owns the second-highest playoff winning percentage (.824) behind only Starr.
Not many active players can be mentioned in the same sentence as those names.