You rarely see a situation like the one that involved the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Patriots’ Tom Brady this season. Brady threw for 5,235 yards, 151 more than Dan Marino’s 27-year-old record (5,084), but Brees threw for 5,476, 392 more than Marino’s mark. So Tom, poor fellow, has to settle for second place in the record book behind Drew. Bummer.
For your entertainment, I’ve dug up a handful of other times in NFL history where this happened:
● 1943 – In a 48-10 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Redskins’ Sammy Baugh threw for 376 yards and six touchdowns, breaking the records in both categories (333 yards, five TDs). Two weeks later in a 56-7 wipeout of the Giants, the Bears’ Sid Luckman topped Baugh’s two marks, throwing for 433 yards and seven TDs. (The latter record still stands, by the way, though it has been tied several times.)
● 1965 – On the final Sunday, two Hall of Fame backs, the Bears’ Gale Sayers and the Browns’ Jim Brown, were chasing the record for touchdowns in a season. In Chicago, Sayers scored once against the Vikings to finish with 22, two more than the previous mark (Lenny Moore, 1964 Colts, 20). In St. Louis, meanwhile, Brown scored once against the Cardinals to finish with 21, one more than the previous mark. But get this: Brown might have scored more if he hadn’t been thrown out of the game for tussling with Cards defensive end Joe Robb late in the first half.
Cleveland owner Art Modell was livid – and apologized to Brown afterward “on behalf of the league,” according to accounts. “He’s been kicked, beaten and gouged out there for many seasons,” Modell said, “and has never complained. Now, once it matters to him, he has to be kicked out after years of injustice.”
● 1974 – In Week 9, the Bengals’ Ken Anderson completed 16 consecutive passes against the Steelers, breaking the record of 15 shared by Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Joe Namath. In Week 14, the Colts’ Bert Jones completed 17 in a row against the Jets. The last one, to running back Lydell Mitchell, was for a 6-yard loss.
● 1992-93 – Over an 11-game stretch, the Saints’ Morten Andersen was successful on 25 straight field goal attempts, topping the record of 24 (Kevin Butler, 1988-89 Bears). The week after Andersen’s streak was broken, the Chargers’ John Carney booted six field goals against Houston to run his streak to 29 in a row.
● 2011 – Whoops, almost forgot about the duel between the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski and the Saints’ Jimmy Graham this year. Both surpassed the record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end (Kellen Winslow Sr., 1980 Chargers, 1,290). But Gronkowski nosed out Graham in the final game, 1,327 to 1,310. Mike Florio’s description of their competition on the last Sunday:
Graham first set the record. Then, Gronkowski passed him, after Graham and other New Orleans offensive starters had been removed from the rout over the Panthers.
So Saints coach Sean Payton put Graham back in, and Graham took the record back from Gronkowski.
And then Pats coach Bill Belichick put Gronkowski back in late, giving him the final record on a 22-yard catch that preceded three straight kneel downs by quarterback Brian Hoyer to end the game.
Gronkowski finished with 108 yards [on the afternoon], and Graham had 97… . Along the way, a 31-year-old record changed hands four times.
More of the Season in Review to come.