50 Most Unbreakable NFL Records
Not all records are made to be broken. Football is a perfect example of this as many NFL records of yesteryear are untouchable today because the game has changed so much since when the records were first set.
Rules are different, styles evolve and the environment in which records were set no longer exists. Another reason why many NFL records will never be broken is that the records themselves are unfathomable. It’s hard to see an NBA player surpassing Bill Russell’s 11 rings, and the NFL has many records akin to that.
From game and season records to multi-season and career marks, some amazing feats could be matched one day, but matching a record isn’t breaking it, and that’s what we're talking about here.
These are the NFL records that will never be broken.
Player: Brett Favre
Teams: Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings
Bottom line: There may be more gunslingers like Brett Favre that come along, but none of them will have the durability or longevity that No. 4 had.
He led the NFL in interceptions as a 24-year-old and as a 39-year-old as NFL teams took the good with the bad with Favre.
With the current NFL era of short-to-intermediate passes being prevalent, quarterbacks don’t take as many chances downfield, and thus, don’t throw as many picks.
Eli Manning would be Favre’s closest competition among active quarterbacks, but he’s nearly 100 interceptions behind Favre and doesn't have too many more passes left in his career.
4,409 Rushing Attempts
Player: Emmitt Smith
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals
Bottom line: If Barry Sanders had stuck around two more seasons, he would be the NFL’s rushing king. So there is a chance that Smith’s rushing yards record could be touched.
However, no one in the near future is going to carry the rock as much as Smith. Teams just don’t rely on one running back as much as they did during the 1990s, and teams don’t rely on the run, period, as much as they once did.
Smith had at least 365 carries in a season four times in his career while only two running backs, Derrick Henry (378 in 2020) and DeMarco Murray (392 in 2014), reached that number over the last decade.
Losing Four Straight Super Bowls
Team: Buffalo Bills
Bottom line: You could have a convincing argument that a team will win four straight Super Bowls before another team loses four straight Super Bowls.
The football gods did not like Buffalo in the early 1990s, and after their one-point, wide-right loss in Super Bowl XXV, the Bills weren’t even competitive in the next three Super Bowl games. Their average margin of defeat in those four games was 16.5 points, and that includes the one-point loss in the 1990 season.
But, hey, they still have those AFC champion banners and trophies that have to make players and fans alike sick whenever they see them.
73 Points in a Postseason Game
Team: Chicago Bears
Bottom line: Who would have ever guessed that the most lopsided game in NFL history would happen the NFL Championship Game of all places?
The Bears scored 11 touchdowns behind their T formation and forced nine turnovers to humiliate the Redskins in front of their home crowd at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.
What makes the 73-0 victory even more amazing is that just three weeks earlier, the Redskins beat the Bears by a score of 7-3. After that game, Redskins owner George Preston Griffith said the Bears were quitters when the going got tough.
Chicago coach George Halas used those words as bulletin-board material in the rematch, and the rest is, literally, history.
22,895 Receiving Yards
Player: Jerry Rice
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
Bottom line: There are many Jerry Rice records that will never be touched, but this one has the most distance between Rice and everyone else.
Larry Fitzgerald is second all-time in receiving yards, and is still active, but he would need to play roughly seven more seasons to pass Rice.
What enabled Rice to reach his historic mark was his production when many players fall off a cliff. After turning 30 years old, Rice had nearly 14,000 yards, which would put him in the Hall of Fame alone if he never took a snap in his 20s.
13 Consecutive Shutouts
Team: Akron Pros
Bottom line: If you thought the 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens had stout defenses, look at the NFL’s first two seasons in 1920 and 1921. The now-defunct Akron Pros outscored opponents 175 to 0 over 13 straight games, 10 of which were wins and three were ties.
Pro football was much less sophisticated back then, so if you could stop the run, chances are your opponent wouldn’t score a point.
In today’s offense-heavy era, this record won’t get touched. The longest shutout streak since the 1970 merger is three games, which was accomplished by the Cardinals (1970) and the Steelers twice (1976 and 1976-77).
Two Safeties in One Game
Player: Fred Dryer
Team: Los Angeles Rams
Bottom line: The safety is the least common scoring play in football and occurs once every 14.31 games (since 1932). Multiple safeties in a game are even rarer and have occurred just 20 times in the last 70 years. But two safeties in one game by the same player happens just once in a lifetime and has only occurred courtesy of Rams defensive end Fred Dryer.
Dryer was one the most underrated defensive players in NFL history. He just one Pro Bowl but made a big impact on the field for the Rams. On Oct. 21, 1973 Dryer took down Packers quarterback Scott Hunter in the end zone, and then on Green Bay’s next possession, he took down Hunter’s backup Jim Del Gaizo for his second safety in the game.
No player before or after Dryer has accomplished the feat, and those two safeties were the only two of Dryer’s 13-year career.
104-Yard Kick Return Without Scoring
Player: Percy Harvin
Team: Minnesota Vikings
Bottom line: Most special teams coaches tell kick returners to take a knee for a touchback if they catch the ball more than five yards deep into the end zone. But certain returners like Percy Harvin get the green light to return anything and everything, and that’s what he did with a kickoff that was seven yards deep.
Harvin followed a wave of Vikings blockers down the right sideline and seemed to be on his way to a 107-yard score. However, Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens had the angle on the speedy Harvin, caught up to him and made a diving tackle to bring down Harvin at the 3-yard line.
As a result, Harvin’s play went 104 yards, and it is the longest non-scoring play in NFL history. To add insult to insult, the Vikings didn't even score while facing first-and-goal from the Falcons’ 3-yard line.
Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah matched Harvin’s record in 2015.
32-Point Comeback in Postseason
Team: Buffalo Bills
Bottom line: Known as "The Comeback," the Buffalo Bills overcame a 35-3 deficit in an AFC wild-card game to prevail over the Houston Oilers and advance to the divisional round. These teams had just played one week earlier in Week 17, in which Houston won 27-3 and Jim Kelly got injured, forcing him to miss the rematch.
But Bills backup Frank Reich had experience with this kind of game because he was also part of a 31-point comeback in college at the University of Maryland, which was college football’s biggest comeback at the time. With the Bills in the second half, Reich led five touchdown drives, and Buffalo also was helped by recovering an onside kick, a botched Houston field-goal attempt and three Oilers turnovers.
The Bills won 41-38 in overtime and ended up going to the Super Bowl where they lost. Again.
The 32-point comeback remains the largest in NFL postseason history and second-largest overall after the 2022 Indianapolis Colts-Minnesota Vikings game, when the Vikings overcame a 33–0 halftime deficit to defeat the visiting Colts 39-36 in overtime and complete the NFL's largest comeback.
Two-Game Streak With at Least Six Touchdowns
Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Bottom line: Only nine quarterbacks in NFL history have had multiple six-touchdown games in their entire careers, and only three of those quarterbacks have accomplished the feat in the same season. The last to do it was Patrick Mahomes in 2018 so it's possible for another quarterback to match Big Ben’s record of back-to-back six-touchdown games, but breaking that record is another story.
It’s sort of like a no-hitter in baseball. It’s possible for a pitcher to throw two in a row, but three no-hitters in a row? No way.
The same applies here as someone could have a hot couple of days and match Roethlisberger’s mark, but we don’t see someone throwing six touchdowns in three straight games, even in today’s NFL.
Six Ties in a Season
Team: Chicago Bears
Bottom line: From 1920 through 1973, the NFL didn’t have overtime periods, so if the score was knotted up at the end of regulation, the game was ruled a draw.
The Bears had six such games in the 1932 season, including three straight to start the season. Not only did they have three consecutive ties to kick off their season, but they were all scoreless ties, which means by Week 4, Bears fans hadn’t seen a single point scored by either team in any game.
Since implementing the sudden-death overtime period in 1974, there have been 24 tie games total throughout the NFL, and no team has had more than one tie in a season.
Five Touchdown Passes in One Quarter
Player: Tom Brady
Team: New England Patriots
Bottom line: When the Titans traveled from Nashville to Foxboro in October 2009, they were expecting a normal fall Sunday in the Northeast. But instead, the city was hit with an earlier-than-usual snowstorm, and then the Titans were hit with a Tom Brady avalanche.
In the second quarter, Brady hooked up with Randy Moss for a touchdown. After a fumble on the next offensive play by Tennessee, New England regained possession, and Brady hit Moss again for a score. A Titans three-and-out was followed by another Brady touchdown. Yet another three-and-out for the Titans was then followed by a fourth passing touchdown by Brady. After a third straight three-and-out by Tennessee, Brady hit Wes Welker for his fifth passing touchdown of the quarter, which put New England up 45-0. At halftime.
It’s hard to fathom this record being broken due to the fact that most teams don’t even get six possessions in a single quarter. It took some Grade A incompetence by the Titans for Brady to set this record.
76-Yard Field Goal Attempt
Player: Sebastian Janikowski
Team: Oakland Raiders
Bottom line: This is an unofficial record, but there is video evidence that it happened, and the kick landed about 10-11 yards short.
Though the NFL doesn’t keep track of the longest missed kicks in history, it’s hard to imagine that anyone attempted one longer, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone will attempt one longer. This seems like one of those things that the late Al Davis called for, as he was still alive when it happened, and Davis enjoyed making headlines for records.
Case in point (and another record unlikely to be broken): Davis drafted a seven-foot-tall former college basketball player named Richard Sligh in 1967. Sligh played just eight NFL games, and was more of a publicity stunt than an actual player, but he remains the tallest player in NFL history.
Mr. Davis just loved it whenever his team drew attention.
67-Yard Blocked Punt Return
Player: Frank Filchock
Teams: Washington Redskins
Bottom line: Think of where on the field you have to be to have a 67-yard blocked punt return: the opposing team’s 33-yard-line.
In this day and age, most teams would go for it on fourth down at that yard line or kick a field goal if it’s fourth-and-forever. Punting isn’t even an option when you're that deep into opposing territory unless it’s a pooch punt, which has no chance of being blocked.
The second-longest blocked punt return in NFL history is 63 yards, but it’s been 29 years since there was any blocked punt return longer than 46 yards.
Scoring a Touchdown at 20 Years Old
Player: Andy Livingston
Teams: Chicago Bears
Bottom line: Five players have scored a touchdown before their 21st birthday, with JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017) being the most recent. But Andy Livingston was the youngest of that bunch at just 20 years and 53 days year old. He was drafted at 19 after the NFL granted him a hardship exception to leave school early, and Livingston scored on a kick return in his second career game.
There have been some 19-year-olds drafted in recent memory, but both of those players (Amobi Okoye, 2007) and Tremaine Edmunds (2018) played defense, which limits their opportunities to score.
All of the stars would have to be aligned for someone younger than Livingston to find the end zone.
Teams Going 11-5 but Missing Playoffs
Teams: Denver Broncos (1985), New England Patriots (2008)
Years: 1985 and 2008
Bottom line: The 1985 season is the year before the Broncos ran off three Super Bowl appearances in four seasons, and 2008 is the year that Tom Brady was injured for the Patriots.
This is one of those records that could be tied, seeing as it was already tied once before, but it seems impossible that it will be broken. The NFL will change the rules midseason before keeping a 12-4 team out of the playoffs in favor of an 8-8 division winner.
Add in the fact that if the number of teams that qualify for the postseason changes, it will be a change to add in more teams, which would make an 11-5 team missing the playoffs even more unlikely to happen.
10 Straight Championship Game Appearances
Player: Otto Graham
Teams: Cleveland Browns
Bottom line: Tom Brady and the Patriots have a streak of eight straight AFC championship game appearances going, which makes you appreciate this Graham record even more.
The streak happened before the AFL-NFL merger and before the Super Bowl, so the championship game was The Big Game and determined the best NFL team.
Graham played just 10 NFL seasons. Thus, being in the final game is all he knew. He and the Browns also had an advantage during this era since teams made the championship game by having the best record in their division.
Playoffs weren’t added until later in Graham’s career, meaning his 10 championship game appearances came via just 12 total playoff games.
165 Points Allowed in a 16-Game Season
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Bottom line: Get this: In 1982, NFL teams played just nine games due to a strike. Yet half of the 18 teams still allowed more points that season than the Ravens did in a 16-game season in 2000.
The Ravens' defense was utterly dominant, and it needed to be because the offense was utterly inept. During a five-game midseason stretch, the Ravens' offense didn’t score a single touchdown, but the defense kept the team afloat and led Baltimore to a Super Bowl win.
The 165 points allowed is 22 points fewer than any other team has allowed in a 16-game season. With the subsequent rule changes opening up the field and allowing for more points to be scored, this record is safe unless the NFL reverts back to previous rules.
Four Consecutive Games of Throwing a Pick-Six
Player: Matt Schaub
Team: Houston Texans
Bottom line: Shout-out to Matt Schaub who ranks 134th all-time in interceptions thrown but ranks 30th all-time in pick-sixes. He’s making the most of his interceptions.
Schaub was a Pro Bowler in 2012, then fell off a cliff before the following season as his pick-six streak started in Week 2. He also threw an interception in Week 1, but it wasn’t returned for a touchdown. Schaub threw a total of eight interceptions during his four-game streak. The only reason it ended at four was that Schaub got injured and replaced in the fifth game.
It’s hard to see someone throwing a pick-six in five straight games since a coach would yank the quarterback before he could reach that mark.
404 All-Purpose Yards in a Game
Player: Glyn Milburn
Team: Denver Broncos
Bottom line: The days of one player handling kick returns, punt returns and being featured on offense are all but over.
Glyn Milburn was a do-everything back for the Broncos, and in his memorable game, he had 133 kick return yards, 131 rushing yards, 95 punt return yards and 45 receiving yards. There wasn’t a single player who achieved all four of those numbers during the entire 2018 season, much less one game.
Teams are much more specialized these days, and it’s even rare to see the same player handle both kickoffs and punts. Only 12 players had at least 100 kick return yards and 100 punt return yards in 2018, and none of them were running backs like Milburn was.
492 Touches in a Season
Player: James Wilder
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bottom line: Only five running backs in NFL history have carried the ball at least 400 times in a season. Only 19 running backs in NFL history have recorded at least 85 receptions in a season. But only one man has accomplished both of those feats in the same season: James Wilder.
In 1984, Wilder ran the ball 407 times, which was a record at the time and still ranks as the third-most ever. He also recorded 85 receptions that year, which was the second-most at the time for a running back.
Add that all up, and no one has ever taken a pounding quite like Wilder did for a 6-10 team, no less. His 492 touches are 35 more than the player with the next most, and with more teams going to running backs by committees, this record won’t get touched any time soon.
19,013 Kick and Punt Return Yards
Player: Brian Mitchell
Teams: Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants
Bottom line: Even if you take away the fact that kickoffs and kick returns may not exist in a couple of years, Brian Mitchell has set the bar so high for return specialists that his records will never be touched. He is the all-time leader in both kick return yards and punt return yards and leads by a wide margin for both.
The NFL has changed since Mitchell’s era in that most teams now employ one player for kick returns and another for punt returns. They will even rotate a couple of players in those roles, but Mitchell was the full-time returner for both positions throughout his entire career.
479 Consecutive Extra Points Made
Player: Stephen Gostkowski
Teams: New England Patriots
Bottom line: Remember when the extra-point attempt came from the two-yard line? That is now a thing of the past after it was moved back to the 15-yard line in 2015.
Since then, XPAs are no longer automatic like they were for Gostkowski for a decade. The Patriots' kicker missed one extra point as a rookie before reeling off a streak of 142 games without a miss.
Since the new distance went into effect in 2015, Gostkowski’s longest streak for extra points made is 44, which isn’t even 10 percent of his all-time record.
45 Rushing Attempts in a Game
Player: Jamie Morris
Team: Washington Redskins
Bottom line: After winning the Super Bowl in the 1987 season, the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs the next season.
Already eliminated, coach Joe Gibbs used the final game of the 1988 season as an audition for the starting running back position for rookie Jamie Morris. He fed and fed and fed Morris against the Cincinnati Bengals to the tune of 45 of the team’s 47 rushing attempts, with the other two going to a wide receiver.
You would imagine Morris looking like Jerome Bettis or Mike Alstott, but the diminutive running back was just 5 feet, 7 inches and 190 pounds. He finished the game with 152 rushing yards and didn’t fumble, which also gives him the record for most rushing attempts in a game without a fumble.
107-Yard Interception Return
Player: Ed Reed
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Bottom line: In 2004, Ed Reed had a 106-yard interception return for a touchdown that established a record for the longest pick-six return in NFL history.
People said that the only person who could break that record would be Reed himself, and four years later, Reed broke his own record by one yard.
With Reed now retired and in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s hard to see another defender notch an interception eight yards deep in the end zone, having the nerve to not kneel for a touchback and taking it more than 107 yards for a score.
The longest non-touchdown interception return was 104 yards by New York Jets safety Marcus Maye in 2018. The longest non-Ed Reed pick-six in NFL history is 103 yards and held by three players, the most recent being Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib in 2017.
Seven Sacks in a Game
Player: Derrick Thomas
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Bottom line: The stars aligned for Derrick Thomas on a fall Sunday in 1990 as his Chiefs took on the Seattle Seahawks on Veterans Day. That day was meaningful for Thomas, whose father was in the Air Force and died in a mission in the Vietnam War.
In the game, Thomas took down Dave Krieg seven times, and the Chiefs had nine sacks as a team.
No player has topped 6.0 sacks in a game before or afterward, but one of those occurrences also was by Thomas, who had six sacks in a game in 1998.
Eight Interceptions Thrown in a Single Game
Player: Jim Hardy
Team: Chicago Cardinals
Bottom line: This game took place back when offenses were run-heavy, so Jim Hardy’s eight interceptions came on just 39 pass attempts.
The Cardinals fell into an early hole in this game and were down 31-0 at halftime, which forced Hardy to just sling the ball all over the field. Surprisingly, only one of his eight picks turned into a pick-six, and that would be the last touchdown the Eagles scored in this 45-7 rout.
It’s hard to imagine a coach leaving a quarterback in a game long enough for him to somehow throw nine picks. The coach would get just as much flack from the media as the quarterback himself.
81 Defensive Interceptions in a Career
Player: Paul Krause
Team: Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings
Bottom line: A two-sport athlete at the University of Iowa, Paul Krause played center field for the baseball team and transferred those center-field skills to the gridiron.
He was a consistent ballhawk throughout his career with at least six interceptions in eight different seasons, although he only led the league in picks once. Krause benefitted from the era in which he played since nearly every quarterback was considered a gunslinger, and protecting the ball wasn’t as emphasized as it is today.
No player since the merger has come within 10 interceptions of breaking his record. In fact, Krause has more picks than the two active players with the most interceptions (Aqib Talib, Richard Sherman) have combined (70, 35 each).
Nine Seasons Leading the League in Touchdown Receptions
Player: Don Hutson
Team: Green Bay Packers
Bottom line: When you look back at Don Hutson’s stats, you realize that he may have been the Babe Ruth of the NFL during the 1930s and '40s. Just as Ruth sometimes hit more home runs than entire teams, Hutson caught more touchdown passes than many teams during his day.
He led the NFL in touchdown receptions in nine of his 11 seasons and finished second in the other two seasons. Not even Jerry Rice, who practically owns the receiving record books, could match Hutson.
Rice accomplished the feat just six times in his career.
Two Punt Return Touchdowns in One Game
Player: Darius Reynaud
Team: Tennessee Titans
Bottom line: This has happened 14 times in NFL history with Darius Reynaud being the last to do it on Dec. 30, 2012, against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The record is another one of those records that may be equalled but never broken.
Three punt return touchdowns by a single player in a single game? That won’t happen because the special teams coordinator would instruct the punter to kick it out of bounds after the first return touchdown and definitely after the second.
Otherwise, both the coach and the punter (as well as many on the punt coverage unit) would be looking for new jobs come Monday.
104 Sacks Allowed in a Single Season
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Bottom line: The quarterbacks who get sacked the most usually fall into one of two categories: the aging statuesque quarterback or the inexperienced, mobile quarterback who relies on his legs to get out of situations. The 1986 Eagles had both types of players: Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham.
Jaworski, who split time with Cunningham, already had led the NFL in sacks three times in his career. Cunningham went on to lead the league five times in his career.
The Eagles shattered the old record of 69 sacks allowed. Cunningham alone accounted for more than that by being sacked 72 times.
Since this record, no team has come close to matching it. The second-most sacks allowed by a team in history is 78 by the 1997 Cardinals.
Fewest Total Offensive Yards in a Game (-7)
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Bottom line: No, that’s not a misprint. The Seahawks posted minus-7 yards in a game against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Seahawks had 23 yards rushing and 25 yards passing in the game as they completed just two of 17 attempts. Factor in their 55 yards lost on sacks, and they finished in the red for total yards. Seattle had just one first down in the entire game, and the Rams breezed to a 24-0 victory.
You would think that a game this one-sided would feature a ton of turnovers, but Seattle committed only one. The team just never showed up, which resulted in the most putrid offensive performance in NFL history.
Fewest Rushing Attempts Needed to Gain 100 yards (2)
Player: Brian Mitchell
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Bottom line: Brian Mitchell, the all-time leader in kick and punt return yards, had a stat line of 105 rushing yards and one touchdown on just two rushing attempts in a 38-10 win over the Falcons on Oct. 1, 2000.
His first carry went for 20 yards, and his second came when the Eagles were just trying to run the clock out. With a 21-point lead and just two minutes remaining, Mitchell took a halfback dive play right up the gut and wasn’t touched by a defender on his way to the end zone.
It was the longest run of his career and the longest run by anyone in the 2000 season. No other player has recorded a 100-yard rushing game on just two carries and it would be impossible to do it on one carry.
Six Blocked Punts Allowed in a Season
Player: Harry Newsome
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Bottom line: The 1988 season was a rare disastrous season for the Steelers, as their 5-11 record was the worst for the franchise in 20 years.
It was a transition year, and half of the roster were either rookies or second-year players, and that showed on special teams. Pittsburgh's punting unit made numerous mistakes throughout the season and allowed an NFL-record six blocked punts.
Their punter Harry Newsome also deserves some blame. He didn’t have the fastest punting motion, and his 14 blocked punts for a career also are an NFL record.
448 Consecutive Games Without Shutting Out an Opponent
Team: Washington Redskins
Bottom line: The last time the Redskins hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy was 1991. That season also is the last time the Redskins shut out an opponent.
It’s been 451 game (and counting), and over 10,000 days since an opponent went scoreless against Washington. This steak coincides with the Redskins having some pretty bad defenses. They’ve posted just one top-five scoring defense since that 1991 season while having six bottom-five scoring defenses.
The next longest streak belonged to the Cardinals, who went 400 games without a shutout, but that streak came to an end in the 2017 season.
Five Consecutive Seasons With the No. 1 Scoring Defense
Team: Cleveland Browns
Bottom line: The "Legion of Boom" Seahawks made a good run at this record. They had four straight seasons with the league’s top defense, but they finished No. 7 in their attempt to match the record.
The 1950s Browns benefited from playing at a time when there were only 12 NFL teams, and talent wasn’t as dispersed throughout the league, so many of the best players ended up in Cleveland. With the salary cap and parity in today’s game, the Seahawks' accomplishment should be viewed as something just as impressive as what the Browns did.
A team somehow, someway would have to lead the NFL in scoring defense six straight years to break the Browns’ mark. That seems unfathomable.
Fewest Rushing Yards in a 16-Game Schedule
Team: San Diego Chargers
Bottom line: In 2001, the Chargers drafted LaDainian Tomlinson with their first-round pick (fifth overall), and for good reason. The season before, they had a putrid performance in terms of running the ball.
They had just 1,062 rushing yards as a team, which was fewer than 19 individual players in that season. They posted just two 100-yard rushing games all season while their leading rusher couldn’t even manage to reach 400 yards.
The Chargers even managed to produce fewer rushing yards than two teams in the 1982 season. And that year was reduced to nine games due to a strike. Yikes.
Starting Season With 0-4 Record but Still Making the Playoffs
Team: San Diego Chargers
Bottom line: Since the NFL expanded the playoffs in 1978, 120 NFL teams have started their season 0-4. But just one, the 1992 Chargers, rebounded to make the playoffs, giving this scenario a 0.83 percent of happening.
The Chargers went 11-1 over the rest of the season and even won a playoff game, but to break this record, a team would have to do the impossible by coming back from an 0-5 record.
A team could run the table after that 0-5 record, and still miss the playoffs at 11-5. Look at the 1985 Broncos and 2008 Patriots.
Longest Punt Return
Player: Robert Bailey
Team: Los Angeles Rams
Bottom line: Before the NFL changed the rule in 2004, a punt that bounced in the end zone wasn’t an automatic touchback.
Such was the case in 1994 when the Saints punted a ball into the end zone, and the ball did a funny bounce and stayed in rather than going out of bounds. Thus, it was a live ball and Robert Bailey, who had never returned a punt before, caught it off a bounce and ran the length of the field for a 103-yard touchdown.
None of the other 21 players on the field even knew what was going on as they were walking off the field while Bailey was running into the end zone.
It is the only punt return in NFL history that is at least 100 yards.
Greatest Turnover Margin
Team: Washington Redskins
Bottom line: No stat correlates more with winning than having a positive turnover margin. The 1983 Redskins had 61 takeaways, better than any team since the merger, while also committing just 18 turnovers of their own, which led the NFL that season.
That added up to a plus-43 turnover margin, the greatest in league history, and by a wide margin. The next highest is plus-33, which came just after World War II, and the next most since the merger is plus-28 by the 2010 Patriots.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, their knack for creating turnovers and protecting the ball eluded them in Super Bowl XVIII that season as they lost the turnover battle and lost the game to the Raiders.
123 Losses by a Starting Quarterback
Player: Vinny Testaverde
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers
Bottom line: To achieve this record, you have to be good enough to keep a starting job, but bad enough to lose more than you win. That in a nutshell sums up Vinny Testaverde’s career. He lost his first game at 24 and lost his last game at 44.
Eli Manning made a good run at Testaverde with 116 losses, but it’s hard seeing Manning getting enough opportunities to eclipse Testaverde now that he’s been benched.
A player with a similar journeyman career to Testaverde is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has started (and lost) for eight different teams, but FitzMagic is a good 44 losses behind overtaking Testaverde.
Oldest Player to Have a Punt Return Touchdown
Player: Tim Brown
Team: Oakland Raiders
Bottom line: Just as being an NFL running back is a young man’s game, the same can be said for being a punt returner. You rarely see players in their 30s fielding punts with the exception of a sure-handed player out there to signal for a fair catch.
Tim Brown was one of the best returners in his younger days but he gave it up as a full-time job once he hit 30 years old. However, the Raiders dusted off the 35-year-and-140-day old Brown for return duties in the 2001 season, and he turned back the clock with an 88-yard punt return score.
It was his first punt return touchdown in eight years and was one of just six returns he had all season.
Most Losses by a Head Coach
Coach: Dan Reeves/Jeff Fisher
Year: Reeves (1981-2003) Fisher (1994-2010, 2012-16)
Team: Reeves (Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons) Fisher (Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams)
Bottom line: Both of these extremely, extremely average coaches share the record of 165 losses, and neither will be getting another head coaching job anytime soon.
For a coach to accumulate this many losses, they need to be good enough to keep a job but not good enough to avoid picking up L’s. Both Reeves and Fisher were a shade over .500 and combined to go 0 for 5 in the Super Bowl.
Marvin Lewis seemed like someone who could challenge this mark today. He coached the perennially average Bengals for 16 years, but he was canned after the 2018 season and was still 44 losses shy of the record.
Most Consecutive Rushing Attempts Without a Fumble
Player: LaDainian Tomlinson
Team: San Diego Chargers
Bottom line: One of the overlooked parts of LaDainian Tomlinson’s Hall of Fame career was how protective he was with the football. For a span of over three years, Tomlinson carried the ball 1,001 times without losing a fumble.
Of course, LT did more than just protect the ball when he ran. He also won an MVP, broke the single-season touchdown mark and made two All-Pro first teams during this time span.
With the way that workhorse running backs have been phased out of today’s game, just reaching 1,001 carries would be an accomplishment in itself.
Most Penalties in a Season
Year: Oakland Raiders
Bottom line: Under owner Al Davis, the Raiders earned a reputation as rebels who had no problem bending the rules. One of their slogans even became "win by any means necessary," and those means could include a ton of penalties.
In 2011, the Raiders went 8-8 under Hue Jackson, but think of how much better they would have been if they didn’t set the all-time single-season record for penalties. With 163 penalties accepted, the Raiders are the only team in history to average at least 10 penalties per game.
But that was the norm for the Silver and Black. The Raiders hold seven of the top ten penalty seasons in NFL history.
Longest Game in NFL History
Team: Miami Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Bottom line: In the 1971 AFC divisional round, the Dolphins and Chiefs battled it out for 82 minutes and 40 seconds before the Dolphins prevailed in double overtime. Back then, overtime periods were 15 minutes long, so the teams played essentially five-and-a-half 15-minute periods before a winner emerged.
With today’s rule, where overtime is shortened to 10 minutes, if the game is still tied, then sudden death will come a little quicker than back in 1971.
No other NFL game has come within 5 minutes of the duration of this game.
Most One-Yard Touchdowns
Player: Marcus Allen
Team: Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs
Bottom line: When Marcus Allen’s teams had the ball on the 1-yard line, there was little doubt about who would get the ball, yet defenses still couldn’t stop him.
Allen is one of the greatest goal-line backs in NFL history and scored from 1-yard out 57 times in his career. Fifty-six of those were rushing touchdowns, and those account for 46 percent of his 123 career rushing touchdowns.
Even Emmitt Smith, who scored 30 more touchdowns in his career than Allen, had to take a backseat in this stat. He scored 10 fewer 1-yard touchdowns than Marcus Allen.
Most 50-Yard Touchdown Passes
Player: Johnny Unitas
Team: Baltimore Colts
Bottom line: This record is a sign of the times. Teams were much more willing to air the ball out back in Johnny Unitas’ heyday of the 1950s and '60s.
Nearly 18 percent of his career touchdown passes went for 50-plus yards as Unitas threw 51 touchdowns of that length, five more than anyone else. Thirty-six of those 51 touchdowns landed in the hands of Hall of Famers, notably Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore.
Second on this list is John Hadl with 46 touchdowns, and like Unitas, he played in the air-it-out era of the 1960s.
Most Consecutive Games Without a Kick Return Touchdown
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bottom line: For 31 years and 498 games, the Buccaneers failed to find the end zone on a kick return despite ample opportunities.
They were one of the worst teams in the NFL during that time frame, which means lots of points were scored against them and lots of ensuing kick returns weren’t taken back. There were over 300 kick return touchdowns around the NFL in this span, and every other team had at least one.
Michael Spurlock ended the drought on Dec. 16, 2007, with a 90-yard kick return touchdown. All it took was 1,865 Buccaneers kick returns for it to happen.
Fewest Total Yards in a Win
Team: Houston Texans
Bottom line: The Texans' inaugural season was 2002, so much wasn’t expected from them that year. But in Week 14, they did manage to upset a good Steelers team that won a playoff game that year.
Pulling off an upset is one thing, but winning a game in which you gain 47 yards — total — is another. Texans quarterback David Carr had 33 passing yards in the game while the team’s leading rusher had 19 yards, yet Houston stomped the Steelers by a score of 24-6.
How was there such a lopsided game despite Houston being outgained 422-47? The Texans can thank three return touchdowns in the game as the Steelers committed five turnovers.
The previous yardage low for a winning team was 51 yards, and that occurred way back in 1961. The fewest yards by a winning team in the last 40 years is 98 yards, which is also putrid, but still more than twice as much as the Texans.