One of the best ways to evaluate an NFL quarterback’s effectiveness is his touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. Based on that formula, a quartet of current NFL QBs may be setting a new standard in this stat.
Steve Young holds the NFL record for most TD passes in a season without an interception with 10. He did that in 1987. Josh McCown currently holds the NFL single-season mark for most TD passes in a season with only one interception when he threw for 13 TDs in 2013 with just a single pick. That mark by McCown, however, may be challenged this year.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers this season has 21 TD passes with only one interception. If he ends the ’18 campaign without another interception, he would set the record for most TD passes in a season with only one interception. Of course, there are four games remaining in the schedule and McCown’s record could stay intact.
Let’s take a look at those quarterbacks who have thrown the most TD passes in a season with zero, one, two, three, four or five interceptions.
0 interceptions in a season
Steve Young, 1987, 10 TD passes
Brian Hoyer, 2016, 6 D passes
1 interception in a season
Aaron Rodgers, 2018, 21 TD passes (* 2018 season not complete)
Josh McCown, 2013, 13 TD passes
Damon Huard, 2006, 11 TD passes
2 interceptions in a season
Tom Brady, 2016, 28 TD passes
Nick Foles, 2013, 27 TD passes
Boomer Esiason, 1997, 13 TD passes
3 interceptions in a season
Drew Brees, 2018, 30 TD passes (* 2018 season not complete)
David Garrard, 2007, 18 TD passes
Dave Krieg, 1994, 14 TD passes
Bart Starr, 1966, 14 TD passes
4 interceptions in a season
Tom Brady, 2010, 36 TD passes
Steve DeBerg, 1990, 23 TD passes
Dak Prescott, 2016, 23 TD passes
5 interceptions in a season
Aaron Rodgers, 2014, 38 TD passes
Russell Wilson, 2018, 29 TD passes (* 2018 season not complete)
Alex Smith, 2017, 26 TD passes
Matt Ryan, 2018, 25 TD passes (* 2018 season not complete)
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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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