QBR ranks: Young QBs set high standard

Divisional Round: Wilson and Kaepernick

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers were the NFL headliners at quarterback entering the divisional playoffs.

Two young NFC West quarterbacks played as well or better than all of them. They did it in different ways.

San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards, an NFL record for a quarterback. He was most effective as a passer on third down, completing 5 of 7 attempts for 90 yards, one touchdown, a 153.3 NFL passer rating and 100.0 Total QBR score. His third-down rating and QBR score led quarterbacks in the divisional round.

The 49ers beat the Packers, 45-31.

Seattle's Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards, a rookie record in the playoffs. He was most effective passing on first down, completing 14 of 18 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns, a 155.8 passer rating and 97.1 QBR score.

The Seahawks overcame 20-0 and 27-7 deficits to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining before losing, 30-28.

A few more notes on Kaepernick and Wilson from the divisional round:

  • Kaepernick: The 49ers' second-year quarterback, though terrific on third down, struggled on first down, completing half his 12 attempts for 68 yards. His first-down passer rating (67.4) was the lowest among divisional-round quarterbacks. The same was true for his 40.8 QBR score on first down. Kaepernick's QBR score on passing plays only was 33.7, by far the lowest for a quarterback in the divisional round (Manning was next at 60.7 and Wilson was fourth at 71.9). The rushing game was where Kaepernick made history. He added 17.2 expected points through his 16 rushes and 181 rushing yards. He gained 99 of his rushing yards on option plays. The 49ers had 16 option rushes for 176 yards and seven first downs with six carries of at least 10 yards against the Packers. That was up from 26 option rushes for 140 yards with six first downs and three 10-plus rushes from Week 11 through Week 17, the games Kaepernick started. The sudden shift to a more option-heavy offense paid off against the Packers, who did not seem to adjust and paid dearly.

  • Wilson: The Seahawks' rookie, though outstanding on first down, wasn't as good on third down, completing 2 of 5 attempts for 28 yards with a 58.8 passer rating and divisional-round low 3.5 QBR score. The Seahawks' success on early downs left them with fewer third-down chances and fewer opportunities for Wilson to affect the game on third down. Wilson had seven third-down action plays, fewest among quarterbacks in the divisional round. Wilson, who rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown, had 24 first downs passing and rushing, five more than any other quarterback in the divisional round and double Rodgers' total. Wilson gained 21 of the 24 on first or second down, at least 10 more than Kaepernick (11), Manning (11), Ryan (11), Brady (10), Flacco (nine) and Rodgers (seven). Wilson finished the regular season with more passes from outside the pocket than any quarterback in the NFL (105). He ranked fourth in QBR (73.4) on these plays. But his QBR score from inside the pocket was even better (73.5). He threw 21 of his regular-season touchdown passes from inside the pocket. Against the Falcons, Wilson completed 23 of 32 passes for 361 yards with two touchdowns, a 116.8 passer rating and 81.7 QBR score from inside the pocket.

The chart below shows QBR scores for divisional-round quarterbacks. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info.

2012 Season QBR Ranks: Divisional Round