A Bunch of Losers: Philip Rivers and the 500-Yard QB Club

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 22, 2015


Philip Rivers passed for 503 yards Sunday, in San Diego's 27-20 Week 6 loss at Green Bay.

It was the 17th 500-yard passing performance in NFL history; the 14th passer to top 500 yards in regulation. Seven of those 17 efforts have come just since 2011, including a record three 500-yard games in the 2012 season alone. Ben Roethlisberger is the only QB in history to produce two 500-yard efforts.

You'd think that those epic passing days would mean big wins on the scoreboard. Not exactly. As loyal Cold, Hard Football Facts readers (Hi Mom!) know, pro football doesn't quite work that way.

Those 17 teams have produced a 9-8 record – a surprisingly poor result giving the historic offensive production in each game. The complete list, with game results, appears below.

The NFL is all about winning the battle of passing efficiency and has little to do with passing volume. In fact, passing for 500 yards is as much a sign of desperation as anything else, as the 9-8 record appears to confirm.

For a little perspective, the 17 most efficient passing efforts in history, as measured by passer rating or yards per attempt, are a perfect 17-0.

As we have often noted, passing yards are so distantly related to victory they can legally marry in all 50 states.  The last QB to lead the league in passing yards in an NFL season and win a championship was Johnny Unitas with the Baltimore Colts back in 1959. That's a long time ago, for those of you keeping score at home. Worth noting that Unitas also led the NFL in average per attempt that season, while the Colts defense ranked No. 1 in the all-important harbinger of championship potential, Defensive Passer Rating. 

Rivers' effort was particularly egregious. His Chargers produced just 20 points despite his big-volume effort. Only Drew Brees and the Saints produced fewer points with 500-plus yards passing, in the Saints 31-16 loss to the Bengals back in 2006.

The NFL's 500 Club

Norm Van Brocklin, Los Angeles Rams (1951) – 554 (W vs. N.Y. Yanks 54-14)

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (2012) – 527 (W vs. Jacksonville, 43-37)*

Warren Moon, Houston Oilers (1990) – 527 (W at Kansas City, 27-10)

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (2014) – 522 (W vs. Indy, 51-34)

Boomer Esiason, Arizona Cardinals (1996) – 522 (W at Washington 37-34)*

Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (1988) – 521 (L vs. N.Y. Jets 30-44)

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (2011) – 520 (L at Green Bay 41-45)

Tom Brady, New England Patriots (2011) – 517 (W at Miami 38-24)

Phil Simms, New York Giants (1985) – 513 (L at Cincinnati 30-35)

Eli Manning, New York Giants (2012) – 510 (W vs. Tampa Bay 41-34)

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2006) – 510 (L vs. Cincinnati 16-31)

Vince Ferragamo, Los Angeles Rams (1982) – 509 (L at Chicago 26-34)

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (2013) – 506 (L vs. Denver 51-48)

Y.A. Tittle, New York Giants (1962) – 505 (W vs. Washington 49-34)

Elvis Grbac, Kansas City Chiefs (2000) – 504 (L at Oakland 31-49)

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (2015) – 503 (L at Green Bay, 20-27)

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (2009) – 503 (W vs. Green Bay 37-36)


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