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If your quarterback throws five interceptions, it’s impossible to win that game, right? In fact, if you look at the numbers, an NFL team that has had a quarterback throw five interceptions in a game had won eight times, tied twice and lost 144 times (from 1966 to 2011). That’s a winning percentage of .058. Maybe not impossible, but highly unlikely.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons made the “not impossible, but highly unlikely” a definite “yes” on November 18 last season when they defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-19 despite Ryan throwing five interceptions in the contest.
Ryan’s first pass of the game was intercepted as were two more of his first quarter passes. The Falcons recovered from a 13-0 first quarter deficit to win their ninth game of the season.
Ryan became the first QB since Tony Romo in 2007 (and only the second QB in the last 23 years) to have five interceptions in his team’s victory.
In addition to Ryan’s game this past season, here are the eight other quarterbacks whose teams won when they tossed five interceptions in a game:
Oct. 8, 2007: Tony Romo, Dallas, in a win over Buffalo
Dec. 9, 1990: Mark Rypien, Washington, in a win over Chicago
Oct. 26, 1987: Wade Wilson, Minnesota, in a win over Denver
Dec. 24, 1985: John Elway, Denver, in a win over Kansas City
Sept. 14, 1980: Dan Fouts, San Diego, in a win over Oakland
Sept. 7, 1980: Joe Ferguson, Buffalo, in a win over Miami
Nov. 29, 1970: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore, in a win over Chicago
Sept. 24, 1967: Bart Starr, Green Bay, in a win over Chicago
Following are the QBs who have had the most games with five-plus interceptions:
8: Joe Namath
5: Ken Stabler
4: Vinny Testaverde, Tommy Kramer, Joe Ferguson, Dan Fouts
3: Jim Hart, Steve Grogan, Steve DeBerg
Here’s a few more interesting stats concerning QBs who threw five or more interceptions in a game and his team won.
* Ryan became only the second QB since 1966 to have five-plus interceptions and no TD passes and his team won. Bart Starr did it in 1967.
* Tony Romo is the only QB to throw five interceptions in a game that his team won on the road. The other eight QBs who threw five-plus interceptions in a win did it at home.
* Quarterbacks who threw five-plus INTs in a playoff game are 0-11. The last QB to do so? Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers who had five interceptions in the Panthers 33-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 10, 2009.
* Ten QBs have thrown six or more interceptions in a game. None did it in a victory.
* David Woodley of the Miami Dolphins had the highest passer rating of any QB who threw five-plus interceptions in a game. He had an 82.8 passer rating in his five-interception game versus the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 25, 1981.
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I only caught a brief portion of the conversation on sports talk radio, ESPN-540 Milwaukee (the Steve “The Homer” True show). The discussion centered around Green Bay Packers quarterbacks Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers and whether or not they were the best trio of QBs from an NFL franchise.
So… I decided to put some numbers to the discussion.
The premise I started with is that to qualify for my list, the quarterback had to have thrown 100 or more TD passes with the team and won 40 or more games for that team as the starting quarterback (Note: Some of the older QBs do not have won-loss records in the resources I used, so had to give some of the “older” QBs a “pass” if I thought they deserved to be on the list).
Here’s my list of the Top 10 NFL Franchises with the Best Trio of Quarterbacks in their History (Agreements? Disagreements? Let me know.)
1. San Francisco 49ers: Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Brodie. All three threw for 200 or more TD passes with the team (the only tandem in NFL history); all won 70 or more games as starting QB and Montana and Young not only won Super Bowls but also have been elected to the Hall of Fame. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Y.A. Tittle.
2. Green Bay Packers: Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Maybe a little bias being a Packers fan, but I believe they stack up pretty well against other trios. They are one of only three QB trios to lead their team to the Super Bowl (Washington and the New York Giants are the other two). Rodgers is still early in his career, but he has the potential to finish with many more TDs and wins as the Packers QB. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Lynn Dickey.
3. Dallas Cowboys: Troy Aikman, Danny White and Roger Staubach. The ‘Boys actually have five QBs who fit the criteria (add Tony Romo and Don Meredith). Staubach and Aikman won Super Bowls and were elected to the Hall. All three QBs listed threw for 150+ TDs and won 60 or more games as Dallas’ starting QB.
4. Washington Redskins: Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theisman and Sammy Baugh. The Redskins QB history includes five QBs with 100 or more passing TDs when you add Billy Kilmer and Mark Rypien. Baugh holds the ‘Skins TD pass record; Jurgensen is in the Hall; Theisman won a Super Bowl (as did Rypien and Doug Williams).
5. New York Giants: Phil Simms, Eli Manning and Charlie Conerly. Another pair of Super Bowl quarterbacks in Simms and Manning. This threesome each had 170+ TD passes.
6. Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas and Bert Jones. Manning and Unitas rank among the best of all time. Jones is not a real strong #3, so the team ranks lower in my rankings.
7. New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Steve Grogan and Drew Bledsoe: Each of the three have 60+ wins and more than 165 TDs on their Patriots resume. Brady and his three Super Bowls are a lock for the Hall. They have a fourth QB that fit my criteria: Babe Parilli.
8. Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans: Warren Moon, George Blanda and Steve McNair. This was the group that probably surprised me the most. This group each had over 150 TD passes. Moon and Blanda are Hall of Famers. They had a fourth QB that just missed the list: Dan Pastorini (he had 53 wins but only 96 career TDs).
9. San Diego Chargers: Dan Fouts, John Hadl and Philip Rivers. No Super Bowls leaves this group lower, but they each have over 150 TDs and 59+ wins. Rivers has the chance for 200+ career TDs, which would give the team three QBs with 200+ (a rarity… see the 49ers above).
10 (tie). Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham; Cincinnati Bengals: Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason and Carson Palmer. Solid groups, but no Hall of Famers or Super Bowl wins to make an impact on the list.