We'll keep this explanation fairly simple: we're attempting to rank the biggest games of Kerry Collins' career. Since Collins himself didn't make this list, we have no idea how entirely accurate it is, but based on our undergraduate psychology degree and our (limited) knowledge of football, we think it's pretty close to legitimate. Collins has played in one Super Bowl, which most football players almost automatically refer to as "the biggest game they ever played in." Heck, it's likely true in every case. We're not putting it No. 1, though, because the one time Collins appeared in a Super Bowl, he got absolutely woodshedded by the Baltimore Ravens and allowed Trent Dilfer to become part of "sports bar discussion lore" for the rest of eternity. Instead, we're looking back to State College, by way of Pasadena.
1995 ROSE BOWL
People think this 38-20 drubbing of Oregon helped cement Ki-Jana Carter as the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Depressing. We're putting this No. 1 because it came at the end of an amazing season for Collins, where he won basically every award a college QB can win. It was the fifth undefeated season PSU had at the time under JoePa, and since Collins lacks a Super Bowl ring, ya gotta think this Rose Bowl title was fairly special to him.
PANTHERS 26, COWBOYS 17: 1996-1997 NFL PLAYOFFS
The Panthers' defense did more in this game, holding Troy Aikman to 165 passing yards and forcing three interceptions. Still, it was Carolina's first playoff win as a franchise and Collins did throw two touchdowns in the proceedings. The next week, they got blown out at Lambeau in the NFC Title Game, but we'll gloss that over.
THE DRIVE VS. ILLINOIS: NOVEMBER 12, 1994
In order to keep the season referenced in No. 1 undefeated, Collins had to lead a 94-yard drive against Illinois. It's still discussed in Happy Valley. Go ahead and watch it here.
JANUARY 2001: GIANTS 41, VIKINGS 0
This was the NFC Championship Game that the Giants had no business winning in such dominating fashion. Remember? Collins had five touchdown passes in this game.
DECEMBER 2002: GIANTS 44, COLTS 27
Even though the Giants didn't make the SB in '02, it was one of Collins' best statistical years as a pro. In this game, he was 23-of-29 for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Across the aisle, Peyton Manning—already getting more love than Collins, four years into his career—was 30-of-46 for 365 yards, three touchdowns and two costly picks. Plus, ya know, losing the game.
OCTOBER 1995: PANTHERS 26, JETS 15
Collins actually played a gawd-awful game, getting sacked for a safety and throwing two picks. Still, it was his first win (!) as a pro. You can make an argument for Jake Delhomme easily at this point, but some Carolina fans still call Collins the best QB in franchise history. As a result, we deem this important.
SUPER BOWL XXXV
We were holding out on ranking this. Here ya go. Broader relevance of this game has little to do with KC. Rather, it's this: (1) Dilfer; (2) Wow, this linebacker out of Miami is really good! ; (3) "Hey, this Marvin Lewis guy is going to make an awesome head coach someday!" ; (4) "Brian Billick is set for life. The dude will never do a beer commercial, that's for sure!" In sum, the game taught us nothing.