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NFL passing yards have climbed over the past few decades for numerous reasons. The game itself has become much more of an aerial attack to produce high point totals, catering to the fantasy football and pool players. Another reason the yards have climbed over the years is because more games have been added to the regular-season schedule.
Despite this trend, the most NFL passing yards in a game record hasn’t been beaten since 1951. Many NFL fans may never have heard of the name Norm Van Brocklin, but the former Rams quarterback currently holds the NFL record for most passing yards in a game.
Players with Most Passing Yards in a Game in NFL History
The top five players for most passing yards in an NFL game might surprise you, with one currently playing in the NFL today.
Norm Van Brocklin
As mentioned, Van Brocklin holds the NFL record for most passing yards in a game with 554. The performance came on Sept. 28, 1951 against the New York Yanks. Van Brocklin threw for five touchdowns as the Rams put up 54 total points in a win.
Moon is tied with Matt Schaub for the second-most passing yards in an NFL game with 527. Despite the yard total, Moon only threw for three touchdowns in his game as the Houston Oilers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
Moon’s performance came on Dec. 16, 1990. 27 is the number to remember in this game. Moon finished with 527 passing yards, the Oilers put up 27 total points and Moon completed 27 passes – the same exact number Van Brocklin did in his record-setting game.
Schaub’s 527 yard performance came when he was a member of the Houston Texans, after serving as Michael Vick’s backup in Atlanta for a few years. On Nov. 18, 2012 Schaub went into overtime to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars with five touchdown passes. He threw the ball 55 times with only 12 incompletions all game.
Burrow is the only active quarterback in the top seven players to see the most passing yards in a game, with 525 he saw against division rival the Baltimore Ravens. On Dec. 26, 2021 Burrow delivered a Christmas gift for Cincinnati in a four touchdown performance 41-21 win.
The game also had huge AFC North implications, adding to the greatness of the moment. Also note that Burrow completed 80% of his passes, the second-highest percentage among the top 25 passing yard performances.
We go back-to-back Bengals here as CBS analyst Esiason saw 522 yards against Washington on Nov. 10, 1996. Despite Esiason playing most of his career in Cincinnati, this performance came when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
Like Schaub, Esiason’s performance came in a game that went to overtime. Esiason’s completion rating wasn’t great, only connecting on 59% of his throws. He even saw more interceptions than touchdowns, throwing four picks to just three touchdowns.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger has the highest completion rating for 500-yard game passers, throwing for 522 yards against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 26, 2014. Big Ben threw just nine incompletions and six touchdowns, without a single interception.
Marino is the first quarterback on this list to see his team lose the game, as the Miami Dolphins fell short to the New York Jets on Oct, 23, 1988. Marino didn’t play great either, the lowest completion percentage on this list with 58%.
Despite the low points of the game, Marino did throw for 521 total yards. Still, he tossed five interceptions to just three touchdowns and could be considered the worst 500-yard passing performance of the bunch.
Recent Super Bowl winning quarterback Stafford is the second active player on the list, tossing for 520 yards against the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 1, 2012. Stafford’s achievement came when he was a member of the Detroit Lions, the franchise that originally drafted him.
Stafford was impressive in the game, throwing five touchdowns and just two interceptions. However, as was too familiar during his tenure in Detroit, the Lions fell short to Green Bay on New Year’s Day in a four-point loss.
It was only a matter of time until we saw his name on the list, the greatest NFL player of all time. While with New England, Brady tossed for 517 yards against division rival Miami. The win occurred on Sept. 12, 2011, as Brady threw four touchdown passes on 32 completions.
Goff tied Brady’s 517-yard record on Sept. 29, 2019 against… you guessed it, the team Tom Brady would end up with in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goff’s performance wasn’t the best, attempting 68 total passes while also throwing three interceptions.
Other NFL Records That’ll Most Likely Be Broken Soon
Cooper Kupp came awfully close to breaking the single-season receiving yard record Calvin Johnson set in 2012. In 2021, Kupp finished the season just 18 yards shy and ironically saw Stafford throwing him passes that season – the same quarterback Johnson had in 2012.
Justin Jefferson broke former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase’s NFL rookie receiving yard total in 2021 with 1,400 yards. It’s important to note that the NFL is becoming more pass-heavy and they added an extra game two years ago, so records will be broken soon – most of which will be receiving and passing stats.
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