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Who has the most pass attempts in one NFL game?

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 11 Jan 2021, 17:55 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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Who has the most passing attempts in an NFL game? Check out our listicle for the answer, with a list of the 5 games with the most passing attempts by one quarterback in NFL history.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger sparked the conversation about the most attempts in a game, as the veteran QB etched his name in the record books in yet another category, with a 68-attempt outing against the Cleveland Browns on Super Wild Card Weekend. Roethlisberger lands in a 3-way tie on the list of most attempts in a game, as there are a handful of players who have experienced similar offensive efforts in the history of the League.

While throwing for 65 or more attempts may seem like the recipe for a shootout, the reality is that most NFL games feature more balanced attacks, and a quarterback throwing for a record-breaking number of attempts can indicate that an offense had trouble scoring points, and relied on the pass to try to bring themselves back from a deficit.

Most of the efforts on this list came in losses for the quarterbacks, as they were unable to generate enough offense to keep up with their opponents, who had the luxury of being in the lead with the ability to run the football.


#1 Drew Bledsoe - 70 pass attempts

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots
AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots

First on the list is Drew Bledsoe, who threw 70 passes in a 26-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings as a member of the New England Patriots on November 13th, 1994.

Bledsoe had a historic outing on the day, and played well overall, completing 45 of his 70 passes for 426 yards and 3 touchdowns. With that many pass attempts, you would think that Bledsoe would have faced heavy pressure from blitzing defenders at some point, but he managed to escape the game without being sacked a single time.

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On the other sideline was legendary quarterback Warren Moon, who had a comparatively quiet day with 349 yards on 26 completions with 42 attempts.


#2 Vinny Testaverde - 69 pass attempts

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Detroit Lions QB Jon Kitna
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Detroit Lions QB Jon Kitna

New York Jets QB Vinny Testaverde threw the second-most passes in an NFL game on December 24th, 2000 against the Baltimore Ravens. Testaverde's attempt at air supremacy fell flat, as the former Heisman Trophy winner only completed 36 of his 69 passes in the 34-20 loss, finishing with 481 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a sack that lost 8 yards.

Chris McAlister caught Testaverde's lone interception on the day and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown with 7 seconds left in the first half. Testaverde had a historic day, but it is likely a day he wishes he could forget. Anyone who throws 69 passes in a game and only manages to account for 20 points clearly has some problems generating offense, so it is no wonder that the 9-7 Jets missed the playoffs that season.

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Testaverde was a journeyman quarterback in his later years, playing for 7 different franchises before his retirement after the 2007 season, finishing his career as a member of the Carolina Panthers, at age 44.


#3 George Blanda - 68 pass attempts

The third-most passing attempts in an NFL game is a record that is simultaneously held by four different quarterbacks at the same time. Let's examine all four, one-by-one. First, Hall of Fame QB George Blanda accomplished the feat as a member of the Houston Oilers, throwing 68 passes in a 24-10 loss to the 8-0 Buffalo Bills on November 1st, 1964.

Blanda completed 37 of his 68 attempts for 393 yards, while throwing for 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, finishing with a passer rating of 58.0 for the outing. For the Bills, Booker Edgerson, Ron McDole, and George Saimes all came up with an interception apiece, with Edgerson orchestrating a 91-yard return, almost turning the interception into a coveted pick-six.

Blanda finished his career with 1911 completions of 4007 attempts for a career percentage of 47.7 percent. Blanda accumulated 26,920 yards through the air and threw 236 touchdowns to 277 interceptions.

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If a player were to finish with similar stats today, they would not be considered for any all-time lists, let alone the Hall of Fame. Blanda played in a different generation, and considering the fact that the concept of the forward pass was established long after football had been invented, these numbers must have seemed more impressive to the voters of that era.


#4 Jon Kitna, Jared Goff, Ben Roethlisberger - 68 pass attempts

Jon Kitna
Jon Kitna

Cincinnati Bengals QB Jon Kitna and Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff both threw for 68 attempts in the two most recent games on this list. Kitna's 68-attempt game came against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 30th, 2001 in a week 17 victory that saw the 5-10 Bengals defeat the 12-3 Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Kitna completed 35 of his 68 passes for 411 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Star running back Corey Dillon failed to find the endzone that day, so Kitna's flurry of passes was the driving force behind the victory.

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks

Goff's 68-attempt outing came in a 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 29th, 2019. Goff completed a respectable 45 of his 68 passes with a whopping 517 yards, but threw 2 touchdowns to 3 interceptions and was sacked twice.

Lavonte David, Jordan Whitehead, and Shaquil Barrett all picked Goff once on the day, in a two-possession defeat on the Rams' home turf. Goff has yet to match his career-high in attempts in any other games, but as the young quarterback is only a few years into what could be a lengthy career, he will have plenty more opportunities in the future.

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Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers

Goff and Kitna now share their 3rd place spot with Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger who threw 47 completed passes on 68 attempts with 501 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in a loss to the Cleveland Browns in a wild card game at Heinz Field. The Browns jumped out to a 28-0 lead and the Steelers were playing from behind for the entire game, so the gameplan featured little to no rushing.

Roethlisberger's long day did not turn out with the result he would have liked, but at least he can take solace in the fact that he again finds himself in rare company, near the top of the record list.

Published 11 Jan 2021, 17:55 IST
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