Has Brady surpassed Montana as greatest QB ever?

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the inordinately dominant quarterbacks of the 21st century, competing annually for the right to challenge Joe Montana atop NFL history's quarterback hierarchy.

If Manning's shaky Super Bowl XLVIII performance relegated his legacy to greatest regular-season quarterback of all time, Brady slipped past Montana as the most accomplished postseason signal-caller with six Super Bowl appearances, four Lombardi Trophies and three Super Bowl MVP awards.

Shredding the generation's best pass defense with a Super Bowl record 37 completions en route to an epic fourth-quarter comeback that will run in loops on NFL Films will lead to unending pigskin-head debates on the merits of Brady vs. Montana.

"(Brady) is the greatest quarterback to ever live on this Earth," slot receiver Julian Edelman proudly proclaimed to NFL Media's Alex Flanagan after Super Bowl XLIX.

Does that hold up to closer scrutiny?

Montana's Super Bowl record is immaculate. He won all four appearances, once in career-defining fashion versus the Bengals and twice more in utterly convincing blowouts.

Brady will never compete with Montana's gaudy 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 127.8 passer rating on football's biggest stage, but the former now owns career Super Bowl records for passes, completions, yards and touchdowns.

To put this clash of titanic quarterbacks in proper perspective, though, it would be myopic to exclude the length and breadth of their respective careers.

More to the point, Brady can't be punished for losing a pair of close Super Bowls when Montana's postseason failures occurred earlier in January.

Brady boasts the edge in career winning percentage, regular-season statistics, postseason statistics, division titles and Championship Game appearances. Whereas Montana had the benefit of a connection with Jerry Rice, the No. 1 player on NFL Network's The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, Brady has often pulled through with a cast of misfits unable to succeed outside of New England.

It's the nature of high-octane athletic debates that this one will remain hotly contested in sports bars, over the talk-radio airwaves and in the NFL Network studios for years to come.

Brady apologists can rest assured that he and Bill Belichick are the most successful quarterback-coach duo to ever set foot on the gridiron. Better yet, the dynamic duo has the opportunity to defend the Super Bowl crown and bolster their legacies next year and beyond.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing pick, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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