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The fact that Tony Romo had three touchdowns, 307 yards passing and a Passer Rating of 129.5 in the Cowboys 24-17 season-opening win in 2012 over the New York Giants should not have come as a surprise to NFL enthusiasts and Dallas fans. In his previous five season-opening games, Romo had a Passer Rating over 100 in four of those five games with a high of 140.6 in 2009.
From 1960-2012, there were 149 times when a quarterback had a Passer Rating of 120 or more in his team’s first game of the season (minimum of 10 passes attempted to qualify). Teams won 128, lost 19, with two ties in those games (a .866 winning percentage).
Last season, seven QBs had a Passer Rating of 120 or more in the NFL’s opening week. They were:
Robert Griffin, III, Washington, 139.9 (vs. New Orleans)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta, 136.4 (vs. Kansas City)
Tony Romo, Dallas, 129.5 (vs. New York Giants)
Peyton Manning, Denver, 129.2 (vs. Pittsburgh)
Joe Flacco, Baltimore, 128.4 (vs. Cincinnati)
Alex Smith, San Francisco, 125.6 (vs. Green Bay)
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, 123.4 (vs. Buffalo)
Following are the NFL quarterbacks who have had the most season-opening games with a Passer Rating of 120 or higher (1960-2011). With his 129.5 Passer Rating in last year’s Opening Game contest, Romo became the 11th QB since 1960 to have three or more season-opening games with a 120 or higher Passer Rating.
Season-opening games with 120+ rating, quarterbacks
Three: Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, Len Dawson, Jay Fiedler, Chad Pennington, Fran Tarkenton, Tony Romo
Four quarterbacks had a perfect Passer Rating of 158.3 in their team’s first game of the year. The last time it happened was in 2005 when Ben Roethlisberger had a 158.3 Passer Rating in Pittsburgh’s season-opening game against the Tennessee Titans. Roethlisberger was 9-for-11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
Here are the quarterbacks that have had the highest Passer Rating on the NFL’s opening weekend since 1960:
Passer Rating, Quarterback, Season
158.3: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (2005); Dick Shiner, Atlanta (1973); Daryle Lamonica, Oakland (1972); Len Dawson, Kansas City (1963)
157.6: Phil Simms, NY Giants (1984)
157.1: Dan Fouts, San Diego (1981)
156.6: Steve Bono, Seattle (1995)
153.3: Craig Morton, Dallas (1971)
152.1: John Brodie, San Francisco, 1965)
151.8: Don Meredith, Dallas (1968)
151.4: Eddie LeBaron, Dallas (1961)
151.1: Len Dawson, Kansas City (1966)
150.4: Dan Marino, Miami (1984)
Note: There have been five quarterbacks who had a Passer Rating of 0.0 in an opening game since 1960. They were: Al Dorow (in 1962 with Buffalo), Earl Morrall (in 1965 with the N.Y. Giants), James Harris (in 1975 with the L.A. Rams), Jim Plunkett (in 1977 with San Francisco) and Joe Ferguson (in 1978 with Buffalo). The last QB to have a Passer Rating under 20.0 in an opening game of the season happened in 2012: Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden, in his NFL debut with the Browns against Philadelphia, completed only 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards with four interceptions and no TDs. His Passer Rating for that game was 5.1.
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