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Rookie quarterbacks crashing playoff party

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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By Kevin Fishbain

The exceptional seasons by rookie QBs Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson continued during Wild-Card Weekend. It seemed fitting that the three record-breaking rookies would start a playoff game, making 2012 the first season in which that feat has occurred.

Prior to this past weekend, 11 rookie quarterbacks had started a playoff game since 1966, with five of those coming in the past four seasons. After Sunday, rookie quarterbacks are now 6-8 in their first playoff starts.

Four rookie QBs have led their teams to a conference title game, but never to the Super Bowl. Here’s a historical look at how rookie quarterbacks have fared in the playoffs.

Dan Marino / 1983 — Of the great 1983 quarterback draft class, Marino was the only one to start a playoff game as a rookie, and he threw a 19-yard TD pass to get things going. Marino ended his day with a pair of touchdowns, but also two interceptions, as Miami lost to the Seahawks, 27-20, in the divisional round.

Bernie Kosar / 1985 — Against Marino in the divisional round, Kosar threw for only 66 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 24-21 loss. The Browns built a 21-3 lead in the third quarter thanks to a rushing attack that piled up 251 yards and two TDs, but the Dolphins scored 21 unanswered points to rally for the win.

Jim Everett / 1986 — Everett got the Rams their only points in a wild-card-round loss to the Redskins, throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Kevin House. He completed only nine passes and threw two picks in a 16-7 loss.

Todd Marinovich / 1991 — In his only postseason appearance, Marinovich completed 12-of-23 passes for 140 yards and four interceptions in a 10-6 wild-card loss to the Chiefs. Marinovich was out of the NFL two years later.

Shaun King / 1999 — The first rookie to win a playoff game? It was Shaun King, of course. King completed 15-of-32 passes for 157 yards, one TD and one interception as Tampa scored a 14-13 divisional-round win over the Redskins. His one-yard TD pass to TE John Davis in the fourth quarter capped a rally from a 13-0 deficit. In the NFC title game at St. Louis, King completed 13-of-29 passes for 163 yards but threw two picks as the Buccaneers lost to the Rams, 11-6.

Ben Roethlisberger / 2004 — Big Ben led the Steelers to 14 wins in a row heading into the playoffs, and his run began with a 20-17 win over the Jets in overtime in the divisional round. Roethlisberger threw for 181 yards, one touchdown and two picks. He tossed two TD passes and three picks in Pittsburgh’s stunning 41-27 loss to the Patriots in the AFC title game.

Joe Flacco / 2008 — Flacco was the first rookie QB to win two playoff games in a postseason, starting with a 27-9 wild-card win at Miami. He completed only 9-of-23 passes, but did score on a five-yard TD run. Flacco had only 11 completions in a 13-10 divisional-round win over the Titans, but one was a big TD pass to Derrick Mason. He threw three interceptions in a 23-14 loss to the Steelers in the AFC title game.

Matt Ryan / 2008 — Ryan, who is still looking for his first playoff win, completed 26-of-40 passes for 199 yards and two TDs in his playoff debut. However, two interceptions, a fumble that was returned for a TD and a safety were costly miscues in a 30-24 wild-card loss to the Cardinals.

Mark Sanchez / 2009 — Sanchez completed 12-of-15 passes and threw a TD pass in the Jets’ 24-14 wild-card win over the Bengals. He threw for only 100 yards and one touchdown in a 17-14 divisional-round win over the Chargers. Despite two TD passes and an early 17-6 lead, Sanchez and the Jets ended up losing to the Colts in the AFC title game, 30-17.

Andy Dalton / 2011 — Dalton completed 27-of-42 passes for 257 yards, but threw three interceptions in a 31-10 loss at Houston. Texans DLE J.J. Watt returned one of those picks for a touchdown to break a 10-10 tie late in the first half.

T.J. Yates / 2011 — Yates began last season as a third-string QB, then outplayed Dalton in their playoff matchup, completing 11-of-20 passes for 159 yards with one TD and zero interceptions in the 31-10 win. The magic ended there, as Yates threw three interceptions in a 20-13 loss to the Ravens in the divisional round.

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