How many passes can you throw in an NFL game? | High Score


(digital music) – Okay, you’re playing a
60-minute game of football. The mission is to rack up as many pass attempts as possible, in a sport where you have to traverse across a field with a ball. Your character is the quarterback, and you’re here to throw, which is the more efficient method to move the ball on a per play basis. However, danger lurks. Your character can get
sacked behind the line of scrimmage to throw a wrench
in your team’s possession, or worse, you could kill the
possession altogether, if someone from the opposing team manages to catch the ball. Sometimes coaches like being risk-averse and lean on their ground game, by handing the ball off to
a player who runs with it. That on average generates
a few yards less per play, but it’s a bit safer. However the points in this game come simply from airing it out with certain people and circumstances conducive to unleashing a ton of passes. So, who’s laughed the hardest in the face of danger by compiling the highest
score of pass attempts in a single NFL game? Back in 1940, with passing still in
its embryonic stages, the Eagles headed to our nation’s capital with a dismal 1-9 record to play their season finale. They were shut out through three quarters, and found themselves
down a couple touchdowns in the fourth, in an effort to come back, Philly quarterback, Davey O’Brien dropped back to pass a whopping 60 times, establishing a wildly
impressive early high score. O’Brien was a tremendous star, who crafted an incredible
legacy in college at TCU, but nothing else Davey
O’Brien accomplished in his life compares to this
heroic display of passing, in an era where it was
still considered taboo. Then, the day after the game, the 23-year-old left
football to join the FBI. O’Brien’s mark would stand for decades, with barely anyone ever even coming close. In the other 2,950 team games, throughout the ’40s and ’50s, there were only seven instances of a passer even scoring 50, but then came the ’60s, when a couple of strong new challengers entered the fray, in Frank
Tripucka and George Blanda. With the 50 pass game
still mostly urban legend, in 1960 Tripucka topped that number twice, in three weeks. And it was the same opponent both times as large deficits meant turning the Oilers into his personal cheat code in his quest for the high score. He even jumped all the way to second place a couple years later, though he possessed that silver medal for only a week before Sonny Jurgenson snatched it from him. But alas, O’Brien’s spot at
the top still alluded everyone. Enter George Blanda, he was mostly a kicker in
Chicago throughout the ’50s, and after a brief retirement, signed with Houston in 1960 to throw and kick for the Oilers. So Blanda twice watched
from the opposing side line, as Tripucka flirted with immortality, which surely led to the
inspiration to 1-up him, as evidenced by the
55 passes Blanda tossed in the week between those
two Oilers-Broncos games. He finally broke through
in a 1964 game in Buffalo, when, with his squad’s ground game, stuck in neutral, Blanda took matters into his own hands and shattered O’Brien’s record with a new high score of 68. Tripucka and Blanda each took a turn breaking the single-season
interception record too. With the 42 passes that Blanda threw to defensive players in 1962, a record that’ll stand
’til the sun burns out. But that’s just unimportant fluff to what really matters, the art of volume passing. And Blanda felt so satisfied and secure with his monstrously high score, that unlike most red-blooded Americans, who retire around 65, he quit the NFL for good, after the 1975 season, at the tender age of 48. And for about 30 years, he was indeed untouchable, the only guy to come within five of Blanda’s score was Chris Miller, in the final game for the ’89 Falcons, when he tried to mount a late comeback, with a 23-pass 4th quarter, that led to a score of 66. But Blanda’s seemingly insurmountable mark finally fell in 1994, when a score of 70 was recorded in Foxborough, Massachusetts. During that November
Patriots-Vikings game, New England found themselves trailing by 17 at the break. They also possessed a historically lousy ground game that season, producing just 2.8 yards per carry, the lowest average since the 1953 Giants. So coach Bill Parcells just turned things completely over to his 2nd-year
quarterback, Drew Bledsoe. While he threw a mere 17
passes in the first half, Bledsoe cranked an
astronomical 47 in the second, including on each and every one of their 27 plays in the fourth quarter. And for all you mathematicians out there, no, 47 plus 17 is not 70, but Bledsoe got some bonus balls in there, because his furious late game comeback lifted his team to overtime, where he got to tack on another 6 passes, in marching his team
downfield for the win. So way to go, kinda, but unfortunately we gotta slap a big ol’ asterisk on there, as Blanda remained
regulation king, for now. Because six years later, the Jets’ Vinny Testaverde, became our new hero, and he did it in style. At the age of 37, in Baltimore, against what might be the greatest single-season defense
ever, the 2000 Ravens. It was the regular season finale and on this Christmas Eve, all they had to do was win, to deliver the gift of a
playoff berth to their fan base. But Testaverde had other ideas, and what’s truly majestic about it is he had no real reason
to sling the ball nonstop, other than the best reason of all, standing atop this throne with the highest score of ‘em all. There was no extended desperation, in fact Vinny capped each of New York’s first two drives with touchdown passes, taking a 14-zip lead, just six minutes into the game. They remained competitive
for the first 55 minutes, until Baltimore’s third non-offensive touchdown of the game, put things away late. The Jets even had Curtis Martin, a Hall of Fame back in his prime, but offensive coordinator Dan Henning was complicit in the real mission at hand, dialing up pass, after pass, after pass, and when it was all said and done, Testaverde dropped back 70 times. He was sacked once, but 69 was still nice enough to top Blanda for the regulation record. Since then, the only player to throw more than 65 passes in regulation was Ben Roethlisberger on a Sunday night, in week 14 of the 2017 season. But I’d be remiss if I
didn’t pay proper respect to a man that didn’t get many chances to topple the high score, but when he did, boy did he go balls to
the wall in his pursuit. I’m talking about the man, the myth, the legend, thaaaaat’s right, Chris Weinke. In 2001, the 29-year-old rookie became the Panthers’ starting quarterback. And after winning their opener, Carolina lost each and
every game thereafter, becoming the first team
to lose 15 straight games, within a single season. But no one cares about that. What is worth caring about, is that he threw over
500 passes as a rookie, something only Peyton
Manning had ever done. Late in the season, he treated his home fans
to a 51-pass outburst, only to follow that up with a game that, to this day remains the only time a rookie has ever thrown more
than 60 passes in a game. And those 114 combined
passes broke the high score for most times any quarterback
had ever aired it out, across back-to-back games. He then spent another six
seasons holding a clipboard, only starting five more games, throughout the rest of his career. But one of those came late in 2006, against the Giants with Jake Delhomme sidelined by a thumb injury. It was Weinke’s first start in more than four years, and he sure as hell wasn’t
gonna let it go to waste. Down three scores, going
into the fourth quarter, having gotten little help on the ground, and with 31 passes already under his belt on the afternoon, Weinke whipped up a 30-pass quarter, to finish with a score of 61. The offensive coordinator dialing up all those passes? Old friend, Dan Henning. Despite a career featuring
just 709 pass attempts, a number surpassed by several
hundred other quarterbacks, Weinke is one of just four players to have ever thrown more
than 60 regulation passes, in multiple career
games. That’s exquisite. But can the single-game
high score really be topped? It’ll require a near-perfect
storm of circumstances, but it’ll eventually happen. Factors crucial to the effort, will be Mother Nature
providing good weather, or at least a lack of significant wind, the defense of the quarterback’s team should be a sieve that hemorrhages points, so as to force playing catch up, leading to a shootout, and launching 80-yard bombs won’t do you any favors. You wanna slowly matriculate
your way downfield to maximize passes per possession. Your own team’s defense
allowing some huge plays, however would be handy to
get the ball back quickly. As would an uninspiring ground game, that makes it easy to abandon, in favor of airing it out. And of course if there’s a
coach with pass-happy DNA, who’s got a QB with a
with a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder, that’s a ripe candidate too. If, say, a team hired a head coach from the college ranks who ran a spread offense before investing the top overall pick on a shiny new quarterback, that’s a prime threat as well. One day Testaverde and his
60-minute high score of 69 will inevitably yield to new challenger, but he’ll simply be
standing on the shoulders of the giants before him. Hey folks, thanks so much
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4 thoughts on “How many passes can you throw in an NFL game? | High Score”

  1. Jared Goff is trying to break this record. 68 passes against the Bucs, 49 against the Seahawks. 117 over 2 games. All this with Todd Gurley as his RB.

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