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Posted: Wednesday January 21, 2009 12:06PM; Updated: Friday January 23, 2009 7:19AM

Cold Hard Football Facts: Why Warner is better QB than Manning

Story Highlights

Kurt Warner's postseason play separates him from Peyton Manning

Manning is more likely to play poorly in the postseason than Warner

Warner's record in the playoffs is 8-2; Manning's is 7-8

By Kerry J. Byrne, Special to,

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Kurt Warner has stood tall for the Cardinals, leading Arizona to three straight playoff wins and into the franchise's first Super Bowl.
Bill Frakes/SI

Kurt Warner did more than lift the historically dysfunctional Cardinals franchise into its first Super Bowl on Sunday. He also lifted himself past the Chosen One, Peyton Manning, to right behind Tom Brady on the list of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today.

His performance against Philly in the NFC title game was classic big-game Warner, the type we've rarely seen out of Manning in the playoffs. The Eagles entered the NFC title game with one of the league's best defenses: they ranked fourth in scoring (289 points allowed) and fifth in defensive passer rating (72.9).

It didn't matter.

Warner torched this stingy unit, completing 21 of 28 passes (75 percent) for 279 yards, 9.96 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 145.7 passer rating.

It was a nearly perfect statistical game. In fact, over the course of the game, Warner jumped past Joe Montana and into second place on the all-time postseason passer rating list: Warner now boasts a 97.3 postseason passer rating; Montana, 95.6. Only the great Bart Starr was better in the playoffs (104.8).

That's not to say Warner is a better quarterback than Montana. He's not. Montana did it over more games and was nearly flawless in four Super Bowl victories. But it does tell us that Warner's performances over his unusual 11-year NFL career have been nothing less than historic in their nature.

It also tells us that Warner is better than Manning.

The similarities

There are a surprising number of similarities between Manning and Warner.

They both joined the NFL in 1998. They both spent the bulk of their careers playing in domes, giving them plenty of opportunity to cook up fat, juicy stats. And both were often surrounded by great offensive talent. Hell, both of them played with Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James.

The similarities are apparent in the Cold, Hard Football Facts, too:

• Manning is second in NFL history with a 94.7 career passer rating.

• Warner is third in NFL history with a 93.8 career passer rating.

The two are tight as ticks statistically in the regular season.

The differences

Yet there are two major differences between Warner and Manning. They are differences that tell us Warner is the better quarterback even as the misguiding light called reputation says otherwise.

First, Manning was anointed for his greatness as early as high school and the reputation followed him to the University of Tennessee and into the pros, while Warner followed an unusual path from small college (Northern Iowa) to second-rate pro leagues before injury handed him a shot in the NFL. Warner simply doesn't carry the same perception in the eyes of the pigskin public, even as the Cold, Hard Football Facts demand that he deserves the same Manning-style exaltation.

Second, when it comes to all-important postseason play, there is no comparison: Warner is better than Manning any which way you want to slice it or dice it.

Warner in the postseason (10 games):
230 of 360 (63.9 percent), 2,991 yards, 8.31 YPA, 299 yards per game, 23 TD, 12 INT, 97.3 passer rating.

Manning in the postseason (15 games):
348 of 565 (61.6 percent), 4,207 yards, 7.4 YPA, 280 yards per game, 22 TD, 17 INT, 84.9 passer rating.

You'll notice Warner is better than Manning in almost every single efficiency stat and has actually thrown more postseason TD passes than Manning (23 to 22) -- despite playing in five fewer games.

You'll also notice Warner's postseason passer rating (97.3) is higher than his regular-season passer rating (93.8), while Manning's postseason passer rating (84.9) is significantly lower than his regular-season passer rating (94.7).

In other words, Warner's play improves in the postseason pressure cooker. Manning's performances plummet.

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