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YouTube Finds: Watch Drew Bledsoe Throw a Record 70 Passes vs. Minnesota

Posted by Neil Paine on April 28, 2011

On November 13, 1994, New England's Drew Bledsoe set an NFL record with 70 pass attempts in a single game:

Rk Player Age Date Tm Opp Result Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
1 Drew Bledsoe 22-272 1994-11-13 NWE MIN W 26-20 45 70 64.3% 426 3 0 95.3 6.09 6.94
2 Vinny Testaverde 37-041 2000-12-24 NYJ @ BAL L 20-34 36 69 52.2% 481 2 3 66.2 6.97 5.59
3 Jon Kitna 29-100 2001-12-30 CIN PIT W 26-23 35 68 51.5% 411 2 1 73.8 6.04 5.97
4 Brian Griese 33-187 2008-09-21 TAM @ CHI W 27-24 38 67 56.7% 407 2 3 66.0 6.07 4.66
5 Chris Miller 24-137 1989-12-24 ATL DET L 24-31 37 66 56.1% 334 2 1 73.7 5.06 4.98
6 Steve Young* 34-087 1996-01-06 SFO GNB L 17-27 32 65 49.2% 328 0 2 51.3 5.05 3.66
7 Rich Gannon 36-269 2002-09-15 OAK @ PIT W 30-17 43 64 67.2% 403 1 2 76.5 6.30 5.20
8 Bernie Kosar 23-039 1987-01-03 CLE NYJ W 23-20 33 64 51.6% 489 1 2 69.1 7.64 6.55
9 Dan Marino* 34-106 1995-12-30 MIA @ BUF L 22-37 33 64 51.6% 422 2 3 63.4 6.59 5.11
10 Rich Gannon 25-304 1991-10-20 MIN @ NWE L 23-26 35 63 55.6% 317 1 0 74.6 5.03 5.35
11 Elvis Grbac 31-041 2001-09-23 BAL @ CIN L 10-21 33 63 52.4% 326 1 3 52.7 5.17 3.35
12 Vinny Testaverde 35-023 1998-12-06 NYJ SEA W 32-31 42 63 66.7% 418 2 1 89.3 6.63 6.56
13 Chris Weinke 29-152 2001-12-30 CAR ARI L 7-30 36 63 57.1% 223 1 1 63.1 3.54 3.14
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2011.

And for some reason, somebody uploaded a video of all 70 attempts at YouTube:

Posted in Checkdowns, History, Quarterbacks, Totally Useless, YouTube Finds | 6 Comments »

Checkdowns: No “passing leader” has won the Super Bowl

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 27, 2011

No quarterback has led the league in passing yards and won the Super Bowl in the same season. Here's a full list of passing leaders, defined as the player with the most passing yards, in the Super Bowl era:

Read the rest of this entry »

Year Team pyd Player
2010 SDG 4710 Philip Rivers No postseason
2009 HOU 4770 Matt Schaub No postseason
2008 NOR 5069 Drew Brees No postseason
2007 NWE 4806 Tom Brady L - Super Bowl
2006 NOR 4418 Drew Brees L - Conference
2005 NWE 4110 Tom Brady L - Division
2004 MIN 4717 Daunte Culpepper L - Division
2003 IND 4267 Peyton Manning L - Conference
2002 OAK 4689 Rich Gannon L - Super Bowl
2001 STL 4830 Kurt Warner L - Super Bowl
2000 IND 4413 Peyton Manning L - Wildcard
1999 CAR 4436 Steve Beuerlein No postseason
1998 GNB 4212 Brett Favre L - Wildcard
1997 OAK 3917 Jeff George No postseason
1996 JAX 4367 Mark Brunell L - Conference
1995 GNB 4413 Brett Favre L - Conference
1994 NWE 4555 Drew Bledsoe L - Wildcard
1993 DEN 4030 John Elway L - Wildcard
1992 MIA 4116 Dan Marino L - Conference
1991 HOU 4690 Warren Moon L - Division
1990 HOU 4689 Warren Moon L - Wildcard
1989 GNB 4318 Don Majkowski No postseason
1988 MIA 4434 Dan Marino No postseason
1987 STL 3387 Neil Lomax No postseason
1986 MIA 4746 Dan Marino No postseason
1985 MIA 4137 Dan Marino L - Conference
1984 MIA 5084 Dan Marino L - Super Bowl
1983 GNB 4458 Lynn Dickey No postseason
1982 SDG 2883 Dan Fouts L - Division
1981 SDG 4802 Dan Fouts L - Conference
1980 SDG 4715 Dan Fouts L - Conference

Posted in Checkdowns | 13 Comments »

Stathead Blog

Posted by Sean on April 25, 2011

Sports Reference's New Blog: Stathead

I have to admit that I find it very hard to follow all of the great research that people are producing every day on the web. Just for football, culling through the good stuff on Football Outsiders, Cold Hard Football Facts and Advanced NFL Stats is hard enough, but when you add in team blogs, other stathead blogs and everything else, it becomes impossible. This doesn't even include trying to locate recent research in hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer.

So we've decided to do something about it. Every weekday, the Stathead blog will summarize the best research-related studies, news, conferences, and resources for baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer.

The blog will primarily be edited by Neil Paine and will typically feature 20-30 links to analytic content around the internet. We've been working out the format over the last two weeks, and we think you'll soon appreciate our concise summaries for all of the articles we write about.

Feedback as always is welcome.

Posted in Announcements, Business, Insane ideas, P-F-R News, Site Features | 2 Comments »

2011 NFL Draft Preview –

Posted by Sean on April 21, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Preview -

Just the facts, no 40 times or wonderlic here.

Our 2011 draft preview breaks out the picks as they currently stand and provides links to everyone selected at that pick along with lists of a representative player selected at that slot and the top five players selected at that slot. Personally, I find the fact that the Eagles can only expect Joe Andruzzi-like production at the 18th pick of the first round a bit depressing.

Posted in NFL Draft | 2 Comments »

Winning vs. Stats: Matt Ryan

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 18, 2011

By the end of the 2010 regular season, Matt Ryan had become a media and fan favorite. A fellow blogger of mine at the Fifth Down argued for Ryan as MVP. When the Falcons beat the visiting Packers late in the season, Atlanta ran its home record to 19-1 with Ryan as the starter. Pro Football Focus named Ryan the most valuable player in football at the end of the season. Ryan's clutch play gave him more Win Probability Added than any other player in the league, according to Brian Burke. The Falcons ended the season with the best record in the NFC, and Ryan seemed on the verge of being anointed the game's next great quarterback.

But Ryan's Falcons were one-and-done in the playoffs, eliminated in no small part thanks to Ryan's ugly play in Atlanta's home loss to the Packers. Ryan's errant throw -- caught by Green Bay's Tramon Williams -- was one of the worst interceptions of the season. Was Ryan's season as magical as some would have you believe, or was his playoff performance more than just a bad game at the wrong time?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Quarterbacks | 25 Comments »

ESPN The Magazine Draft Preview Features PFRs Career Approximate Value

Posted by Sean on April 14, 2011

ESPN The Magazine - ESPN.

ESPN the mag knows where to find the best way to compare QB's to LB's. If you look, in the large spread of draft preview material, you'll find FIVE pages of draft material using PFR's homegrown Approximate Value. AV is found on our player pages and in our leaderboards. Only here can you find the stats the Worldwide Leader finds the best way to compare OL's and CB's.

Approximate Value Introduction
Approximate Value All-Time Leaders

Posted in Approximate Value, P-F-R News | 8 Comments »

Site Features: Check Out the Play Index!

Posted by Neil Paine on March 30, 2011

Here's another reminder for everyone to check out the Pro-Football-Reference Play Index. In case you don't already know about the PI, it's a set of research tools that allow you to create customizable queries on our database, save the results, and share them with others. With the PI, you can:

  • Use the Player Season Finder to search through every player's stats (since 1920) for single or combined seasons that match your criteria.
  • Use the Player Game Finder to search through our game logs (since 1960) for individual games that match your criteria.
  • Use the Player Touchdown Finder to search through every TD since 1940 for plays that match your criteria.
  • Use the Team Game Finder to isolate specific games or seasons matching certain criteria.
  • Use the Super Bowl Play Finder to search through every play in Super Bowl History (we'll be adding 2009 soon as well -- our apologies for the delay!)
  • Use the PFR Draft Finder to search through every NFL and AFL draft pick.
  • Use our Boxscore Search Tools to find head-to-head results, or all-time games matching a particular score.

And best of all, these features are 100% free to use!

So go ahead, give them a try, and you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News, Play Index, Site Features | 6 Comments »

Super Bowl XXV: Correcting the Narrative

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 28, 2011

Super Bowl XXV. Giants-Bills. Wide Right. 20-19. Bill Parcells. The Gameplan to End All Gameplans™. Our brains have been indoctrinated for years with the message that Parcells concocted the perfect gameplan to defeat the high-flying Bills. By "controlling the clock," "shortening the game" and by implementing a "ball-control offense", the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. When the franchise faced an even taller task 17 years later, New Yorkalready had the blueprint on which to build:

Giants coach Tom Coughlin doesn't have to look far to concoct a game plan for toppling an offensive powerhouse in the Super Bowl. His mentor did it 17 years ago.

When the Giants arrived in Tampa for Super Bowl XXV in 1991, the AFC champion Bills had just scored 95 points while humbling the Raiders and Dolphins in the playoffs.

New York coach Bill Parcells shortened the game by milking the clock and relying on Ottis Anderson, who ran for 102 yards en route to MVP honors in a 20-19 triumph.

The Bills, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Hall of Fame back Thurman Thomas, had possession for less than 20 minutes as Buffalo suffered the first of four consecutive Super Bowl defeats.

And for one of the few times in Super Bowl annals, the more talented team walked out a loser.

Such narrative has been as connected to the game as "Wide Right" since the moment the final gun sounded. Here's what the New York Times published after the game:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Coaches, History | 30 Comments »

NFL Kickoff rule changes: Impact on offense

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 23, 2011

Yesterday, 26 of the league's 32 owners voted to change the NFL's kickoff rules, moving the placement of the ball from the 30- to the 35-yard line.

[Leon] Washington and others around the league said the change, made to address player-safety issues, would breed more touchbacks and substantially impact field position, likely leading to less scoring.

"There just won't be as many returns, and I think it's going to affect things like scoring, and there'll be more of an emphasis on directional kicking ...," Cincinnati Bengals special-teams coach Darrin Simmons told his team's official website. "There are going to be more touchbacks and more 80-yard drives, and scoring drops sharply because there are a lot more scoring drives of 70 yards than drives over 80."

Touchbacks will continue to be brought out to the 20, and teams still will be allowed to use the two-man blocking wedge.

Fan reaction has been mostly negative. Cries about player safety from fans discussing an 18-game schedule have turned into cries about "ruining the game" when it comes to minimizing special teams. In reality, most of these complaints are due to a general resistance to change, with whatever the flavor du jour serving as a comfortable red herring.

But what about the claim that this will decrease scoring? Nate Dunleavy agrees:

A league-wide reduction in offense. Because even the worst special teams units generally start on the good side of the 20 after kickoffs (I believe Indy started around the 22), an increase in touchbacks will move average starting field position backwards for all NFL teams. Teams with good return games will be hurt more than teams with bad return games, but all teams should see their average starting field position go backwards, even Indy. There is a very strong relationship between starting field position and the points a team can expect to score. The cumulative effect of dozens of extra touchbacks will be a reduction in scoring. As noted, the Colts should feel this pinch far less than most teams, as it will likely affect their starting field position after kickoffs by less than a yard or so.

I'm not so sure I agree with Nate; while teams receiving a kickoff may be less likely to score, by definition, teams kicking off will be more likely to score next. In reality, this rule change is sure to have little actual impact on scoring, but that doesn't mean we can't engage in a quick thought exercise. Let's take this rule change to the extreme: suppose instead of teams kicking off from the 30-yard line, from now on the opposing team gets possession of the ball at their own 7-yard line. How would that impact play?

At the start of every half, and following every touchdown and field goal, instead of getting a chance to receive and return a kickoff, a team is placed in the shadow of their own goal-posts. How would this impact scoring? It's obvious that it would make scoring more difficult for the "receiving" team. However, it would make scoring less difficult for the "kicking" team. How do those elements balance out?

We assume that following a kickoff, a team will start its drive at, on average, the 27-yard line. According to David Romer, that is worth 0.7 points to the offensive team. Having the ball at your own 7-yard line is worth 0.6 points to the defensive team. In that case, the team on offense is less likely to score than its opponent. For the offense, this hypothetical rule change would cost it 1.3 points following each kickoff compared to where things stand today.

Now, scoring a touchdown is worth 6.3 points, on average. Under this scenario, a touchdown is worth 7.6 points. Considering that last season there were 9.6 kickoffs per game, this would be a serious change to the way the game is played. However, does that *necessarily* mean less scoring? Couldn't it mean even more scoring? Or would it be a zero-sum game, where if one team scores less the other scores more?
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Rule Change Proposals | 12 Comments »

2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

Posted by Neil Paine on March 17, 2011

To get you prepared for the matchups in this year's NCAA Tournament, we now have printable game previews at SR/College Basketball:

Game Previews | College Basketball at

Each preview contains key information about both teams, including SRS ratings; offensive and defensive ratings; and player statistics from the 2010-11 season. Check them out, and increase your knowledge when watching the games this month!

Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, Non-football | Comments Off on 2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Posted by Neil Paine on March 11, 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News | Comments Off on Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Posted by Neil Paine on March 9, 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News | 2 Comments »

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Posted by Neil Paine on March 7, 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News | Comments Off on Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Repost: The 1987 strike and what could have been

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 4, 2011

As the NFL owners and players' association negotiate the future of professional football, the 2011 season hangs in the balance. Hopefully we won't need to one day write a post titled "The 2011 lockout and what could have been."

But we did for the 1987 season. If you missed them the first time around, here's a link to Part I and Part II.

Posted in Checkdowns, General | 8 Comments »

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Posted by Neil Paine on March 2, 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News | Comments Off on Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Posted by Sean on February 28, 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, General | Comments Off on Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Support, Sponsor a Page

Posted by Neil Paine on February 25, 2011

Sponsoring a page is fun, fast, and easy way to support what we're doing here at Pro-Football-Reference. With a sponsorship, you can:

  • Show your support for your favorite player or team.
  • Drum up traffic for your own site & draw in fans with a common interest.
  • Get some well-deserved recognition for your support of PFR.
  • Make your voice heard by the tens of thousands of people who visit Pro-Football-Reference every day.

Here's all you have to do to get involved:

  1. Create a membership account.
  2. Find the page(s) you'd like to support, and click "sponsor" (available pages).
  3. If the page you want is already sponsored, click "Alert Me!" to be informed when the current sponsorship expires.
  4. Follow the instructions to create your message and make your payment.
  5. Your message and links will be visible on the page after we approve them (usually in less than 24 hours).

And who knows, if you're clever enough, your message might end up on lists like these.

Posted in Announcements, Site Features | Comments Off on Support, Sponsor a Page

Mailbag: Super Bowl QBs With the Fewest Career Home Playoff Games

Posted by Neil Paine on February 21, 2011

PFR reader Bill asked a great question yesterday:

"I can't find evidence of this, but is Aaron Rodgers the only quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl without ever having a playoff game in his home stadium? Other wild card teams have won Super Bowls, but the quarterback will have had at least one playoff game at home during his career prior to winning a super bowl."

Question answered -- here are the fewest previous playoff home games (games where he recorded any stats at all, not just starts) by a Super Bowl-winning QB:

Quarterback Year Team Prev Hm G
Len Dawson 1969 KAN 0
Aaron Rodgers 2010 GNB 0
Joe Namath 1968 NYJ 1
Bob Griese 1972 MIA 1
Jim Plunkett 1980 OAK 1
Jeff Hostetler 1990 NYG 1
Troy Aikman 1992 DAL 1
Tom Brady 2001 NWE 1
Eli Manning 2007 NYG 1

Rodgers became the second Super Bowl winning quarterback ever to enter the game with zero career playoff home starts, and zero career games where he actually recorded any stats, following Dawson (whose only career playoff home game was also his last playoff game).

Of course, alert reader Tom Steen pointed out in the comments that Rodgers did technically play in Green Bay's 2007 home game vs. Seattle, recording no stats but taking the field at one point. So if you're a stickler, the answer is still Dawson.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in History, Quarterbacks | 7 Comments »

R.I.P. Dave Duerson, Who Inspired Our Player Similarity System

Posted by Neil Paine on February 18, 2011

Sad news out of Miami last night: former Bears safety Dave Duerson was found dead in his home at the age of 51. Duerson holds a special place in our hearts because he was the inspiration for our AV-based similarity scores, so as a tribute here is a re-run of Doug's introductory post on the system from July 2008:

Awhile back I was talking football with this kid I know. I brought up Dave Duerson as an example of something or other, and the kid had to confess to never having heard of Duerson. I scolded the kid and started muttering to myself. Never heard of Dave Duerson. Sheesh. Ever heard of the 85 Bears???!!! Awful.

A few months later, I had the occasion to do some research on Lemar Parrish. As a completely honest blogger, I have to confess that, before looking him up, I didn't know much more about Parrish than the kid did about Duerson. And Parrish was a better player. According to AV, he is the best eligible post-merger defensive back not currently in the Hall of Fame (at least until Aeneas Williams becomes eligible).

So I did the math, and realized that if you map Duerson's NFL career onto the kid's life, it looks very similar to the mapping of Parrish's career onto mine. Duerson's NFL debut happened a few months before the kid was born. Duerson retired when the kid was ten. Likewise, Parrish debuted the year before I was born, and he retired when I was 11. So the kid's only crime was being a toddler when the NFL --- and indeed the entire sports world --- attained perfection, which of course coincided with my being 12 to 14 years old.

Anyway, what's needed in these situations is the ability to translate a guy to other eras. Off the top of my head, I couldn't describe Duerson very well to the kid: he was a safety who wasn't a hall of famer but was pretty good. That really doesn't say much.

So I decided to whip up a very, very simple similar-player generator.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Obituaries | 3 Comments »

Add Links to Your Site’s Blog Posts to PFR Player Pages

Posted by Neil Paine on February 15, 2011

PFR Player Name Linker / Add your Site to our Player Newsfeeds

As you may have seen, we have newsfeeds on the PFR player pages, showing the latest player news from KFFL, injury reports and links to relevant PFR blog posts. If you have a blog or website with an RSS feed you can add your site to relevant player pages as well. Our Player Linker Tool will take your blog posts as you've written them and run them through a program and add links to PFR player pages where appropriate. So while you don't have the resource to create your own player pages for your site, you can treat us as your site's statistics partner, linking LT's name to our stats or any player all the way back to Y.A. Tittle and Otto Graham.

If the links then appear in your rss feed and you let us know to look for them, we'll pull them out of your feed and then link back to you from LT's page, or Otto Graham's or whomever you link to.

If you help your users find our great content, we'll help our users find yours. And best of all it is all automated except for one click of an easy-to-install bookmarklet. Check the Player Newsfeeds page for details. This link share will also work for tables you share using the SHARE tooltip found above every stats table on the site.

Posted in Announcements, Site Features | 3 Comments »