Super Bowls in the PFF era: A look back at the best pass-rushing performances of the past decade

Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) rushes the passer against Carolina Panthers tackle Mike Remmers (74) in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Super Bowl 57 is in the books. And while the Kansas City Chiefs celebrate winning another Lombardi Trophy, those of us of the nerdier disposition turn to where individual performances rank in recent memory.

We’ve seen some incredible pass-rushing performances in the big game over the past 10 years, but how do yesterday's efforts compare?

We’ll start by looking at total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries), where we go back to 2019 to see Nick Bosa leading the way with 12 total pressures in Super Bowl 54.

Most QB pressures in a Super Bowl (2001 to 2022)
Year Player Team PFF Sacks NFL Sacks Hits Hurries Total pressures
2019 Nick Bosa 49ers 1 1 1 10 12
2020 Shaquil Barrett Buccaneers 1 1 3 7 11
2016 Dwight Freeney Falcons 1 1 1 7 9
2013 Cliff Avril Seahawks 0 0 3 6 9
2020 Jason Pierre-Paul Buccaneers 0 0 1 7 8
2020 Ndamukong Suh Buccaneers 2 1.5 1 5 8
2015 DeMarcus Ware Broncos 2 2 2 4 8
2015 Von Miller Broncos 3 2.5 0 5 8
2014 Michael Bennett Seahawks 0 0 5 3 8
2022 Haason Reddick Eagles 0 0 2 5 7
2021 Aaron Donald Rams 2 2 1 4 7
2017 Brandon Graham Eagles 1 1 2 4 7
2017 James Harrison Patriots 0 0 2 5 7

Still, total pressure is a very basic way of looking at pass-rushing performance. If you wanted a better by-the-numbers look, our pass-rushing productivity metric doesn’t just look at the total number of pressures but also the number of pass-rushing attempts and the quality of the pressure.

Here, we looked only at players who rushed the passer at least 10 times, which brings L.A. Rams linebacker Ernest Jones to the top of the pack with his one sack, two hits and one hurry from just 10 rushes in Super Bowl 56. Von Miller‘s masterful performance in Super Bowl 50 comes in second.

Best pass-rushing productivity metrics (2001 to 2022)
Year Player Team Snaps PFF Sacks Hits  Hurries PRP
2021 Ernest Jones Rams 10 1 2 1 25.0
2015 Von Miller Broncos 28 3 0 5 19.6
2016 Chris Long Patriots 15 0 1 4 16.7
2021 A'Shawn Robinson Rams 12 1 0 2 16.7
2019 Nick Bosa 49ers 40 1 1 10 16.3
2016 Trey Flowers Patriots 26 3 2 0 15.4
2015 DeMarcus Ware Broncos 35 2 2 4 14.3
2015 Antonio Smith Broncos 14 0 1 3 14.3
2015 Sylvester Williams Broncos 22 0 0 6 13.6
2020 Ndamukong Suh Buccaneers 37 2 1 5 13.5
2022 Haason Reddick Eagles 26 0 2 5 13.5

As good as pass-rush productivity is as a metric, it doesn’t tell you about the quality of the pass-rush win — if there was a win at all — or about plays where a rusher beats his blocker only to see the QB get rid of the ball before the pressure can land.

Here is where the PFF grades really shine, and they tell us that over the past 10 years, the best two pass-rushing performances in a Super Bowl belong to the same player — and that player is Von Miller.

Year Player Team Grade Snaps Total pressures Unlocked pressures Additional Pass-rush wins Batted passes
2015 Von Miller Broncos 94.5 28 8 0 1 0
2021 Von Miller Rams 93.2 33 6 1 6 1
2019 Nick Bosa 49ers 90.6 40 12 5 0 1
2017 Brandon Graham Eagles 90.5 39 7 1 2 0
2018 Dont'a Hightower Patriots 90.2 23 4 1 4 0
2013 Chris Clemons Seahawks 90.2 39 6 0 0 1
2015 Charles Johnson Panthers 90.2 24 3 0 1 0
2021 Aaron Donald Rams 90.1 41 7 2 5 0
2021 Leonard Floyd Rams 87.8 33 3 1 6 0
2015 Sylvester Williams Broncos 85.6 22 6 2 0 1

No player cracked the list from Super Bowl 57, as the offensive lines held the advantage. In fact, the highest pass-rush grade of the night belongs to Fletcher Cox (65.6), whose score would rank only 40th out of 127 qualifying players.

If you want grades for all positions and other fun and informative metrics, subscribe to PFF+ today.

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