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Who is The Youngest Quarterback To Win a Superbowl?

Ben Roethlisberger is the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl at 23 years, 11 months, and 3 days. [1]

Led by a dominant defense and impressive running game, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 40, 21-10. Roethlisberger struggled in his Super Bowl debut, completing just nine passes and throwing two interceptions. [2]

I’m David, and my own playing career ended long before Roethlisberger’s. But I played quarterback through high school and played basketball at the college level. Playing in front of a packed crowd of screaming fans, I’m impressed that Roethlisberger was able to maintain his poise and guide a team to one of the biggest stages in sports today.  

Roethlisberger is not the youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl though. Dan Marino was seven months younger when he took the field against the 49ers in the Dolphins’ 38-16 defeat in Super Bowl 19. [3]

Key Takeaways

  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl at 23 years, 11 months, and 3 days.
  • The win came on the shoulders of the Steelers’ running game and one of the league’s best defenses.
  • Five 24-year-old quarterbacks have started in the Super Bowl, with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts about to become the sixth.

“You Must Be This Old to Win a Title”

Roethlisberger’s title came in 2005, his second year in the league. [4]

The Steelers’ success centered around a lockdown defense that had finished first in the league in points allowed in 2004, and third in 2005. [5]

Roethlisberger and the offense finished the year ninth in points scored, but it was a scheme centered around the running game, and a solid offensive line. 

This left the second-year quarterback in a game manager role while running backs Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis shouldered the load. That trend continued in the postseason. Roethlisberger attempted less than 30 passes in every postseason game and completed just nine of twenty-one passes in the Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks while tossing two interceptions. [6]

Along with Roethlisberger, Dan Marino is the only other 23-year-old quarterback to start in the Super Bowl. [7]

Marino and the Dolphins reached the Super Bowl in 1984, falling to the 49ers 38-16. [8]

It was the only Super Bowl Marino would play in.

Five quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl at the age of 24 with Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady winning. Jalen Hurts is about to be the sixth quarterback to start at age 24 when the Eagles play the Chiefs next week. [9]

Along with Mahomes, Brady, and Hurts, Jared Goff was also 24 when the Rams lost to the Patriots in the 2019 Super Bowl as was Drew Bledsoe when the Patriots were defeated by the Packers in 1995. [10]

Will We See a Younger Quarterback Ever Start a Super Bowl?

A few factors are working against a quarterback younger than Roethlisberger ever hoisting the Lombardi trophy. The best quarterbacks are almost always chosen at the top of the draft by teams that are short on talent and rebuilding.

Recently, Trevor Lawerence and Joe Burrow were the number one overall picks in 2020 and 2021. [11, 12]

Both joined teams in various states of rebuilding but reached the playoffs in 2022. Even with those quick turnarounds, both would have been too old to potentially break the record.

Patrick Mahomes could have been an interesting case. Drafted in 2017, Mahomes was 22 for the duration of his rookie season. But he joined a Chiefs team with designs on a deep playoff run and a solid veteran quarterback in Alex Smith. 

Even after trading up in the draft to get him, Mahomes started just one game before bursting onto the scene in year 2. Mahomes could have potentially tied Roethlisberger for the record if not for one of the most brutal offsides penalties in history.

Dee Ford Game Losing Penalty

Mahomes would get his first title the next year at 24.

What’s needed is a rookie quarterback that is handed the keys to a team with Super Bowl aspirations. That just doesn’t happen very often, which is why Roethlisberger is such a unique case. 

But it does happen when a team’s season doesn’t go according to plan. Take this year’s San Francisco 49ers who started the year with 22-year-old Trey Lance at quarterback. But Lance was injured the second week of the season and his backup Jimmy Garappolo was also injured. 

That left the door open for 23-year-old Brock Purdy, who guided the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. [13]

If Lance recovers and gets a chance to start next year, Lance will have another chance to match Roethlisberger’s record.

But going forward, we may see fewer 21-year-olds like Trey Lance reaching the NFL. The NFL has a rule that a player must be out of high school for a minimum of three years before they can declare for the NFL draft. Every year, college juniors and redshirt sophomores could enter the draft, allowing them to start their professional contracts a year early and maximize their career earnings.

That may change now that the NCAA is allowing college athletes to collect endorsement deals off their name, image, and likeness (NIL). [14]

Now, players have the opportunity to make up to seven figures while still being in college, removing one of the main incentives to jump to the NFL sooner. [15]

While Trey Lance may get one more shot to match Roethlisberger’s mark next year, the age of 21-year-olds reaching the NFL draft may be coming to an end.

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As football becomes more and more focused on top-end quarterback play, it’s getting harder to imagine a signal-caller younger than Roethlisberger hoisting the Lombardi trophy any time soon. Can you imagine someone completing just nine passes, tossing two interceptions, and winning the Super Bowl in today’s pass-heavy league?

But young quarterbacks do have one advantage. With their smaller salaries, teams can focus on building deep and versatile teams around them so that their inexperienced quarterbacks don’t have to carry as much of the burden.

What team-building strategy would you choose? Do you think you could construct a team with a quarterback younger than Roethlisberger, and what sort of quarterback would you look for? Let us know in the comments below.


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