2011 will go down as the year of the Quarterback. Whether you gauge that year with not one – but three – quarterbacks passing for 5,000 yards (Brees, Brady and Stafford), or with the emergence of Cam Newton and Tim Tebow as viable quarterbacking threats, 2011 will most certainly go down as the year of the Quarterback.
One record that was not broken this year, however, was a record that has been in existence for 60 years. A record accomplished by an unheralded Quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams who never threw for more than 2700 yards in a season, was a platoon quarterback in the year that he broke this record, and had more touchdown passes than interceptions only 5 of the 11 seasons in which he was the primary quarterback. It’s a record that seems outlandish considering that it was not accomplished by Dan Marino, Warren Moon or Drew Brees. The record for most passing yards in one game is not held by one of the modern day quarterbacks, but instead by guy who hasn’t thrown a football for over 50 years.
Norm Van Brocklin, drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 4th Round of the 1949 Draft out of Oregon, was in just his third year when his Rams team (that incidentally won the NFL Champtionship in 1951) took on the New York Yanks in the first game of the season. Van Brocklin at the time was splitting snaps with the Rams veteran Quarterback Bob Waterfield. The platoon was successful as the Rams made it to the Championship Game in 1950 and won the Championship in 1951. And 1951 certainly started with a bang.
The game against the Yanks started quickly for the Rams as Van Brocklin (the primary starter in this game) hooked up with Elroy Hirsch and Vitamin Smith on long touchdown passes in the First Quarter to shoot the Rams out to a 21-0 lead. Van Brocklin ended up throwing 5 touchdown passes and threw for a record 554 yards, more than 100 yards to each fo the Rams Wide Receivers, Smith, Hirsch and Tom Fears as the Rams rolled over the Yanks by the score of 54-14.
While Stafford and Brady both approached Van Brocklin’s record this year as they each threw over 500 yards in a game, neither was able to eclipse the record. There is still next year.