History Stories

National Football League records aren't as hallowed as Major League Baseball's. But among the NFL's more remarkable records are these performances. 

1. Largest Margin of Victory: 73 points

On December 8, 1940, the Chicago Bears trounced the Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship Game, 73-0—the largest margin of victory in league history. Three weeks earlier, the Bears lost to Washington, 7-3.

“It was just one of those days," Bears coach George Halas told the Associated Press. "Everything we did, we did right. Everything they did, they did wrong."

Said Washington owner George Marshall: “Some of our boys apparently have been playing on their reputations…That tackling, my, my. It looked as if some of our lads had their fountain pens in their pockets trying to figure out who was going to get what share of the playoff money.”

New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle autographs seven footballs the day after he threw for an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns in 1962. 

New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle autographs seven footballs the day after he threw for an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns in 1962. 

2. Most Touchdown Passes in a Game: 7 

On October 28, 1962, in a 49-34 win over Washington, New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle threw for seven touchdowns—one of eight quarterbacks in league history to do so. The other seven were Sid Luckman (1943) of the Chicago Bears, Adrian Burk (1954) of the Philadelphia Eagles, George Blanda (1961) of the Houston Oilers, Joe Kapp (1969) of the Minnesota Vikings, Nick Foles (2013) of the Eagles, Peyton Manning (2013) of the Denver Broncos and Drew Brees (2015) of the New Orleans Saints.

Tittle wasn't interested in going for eight touchdown passes when he had the chance, telling the Associated Press, “Not with one minute to play. It would look kind of like too much individualism.”

READ MORE: The Birth of the National Football League

3. Most Passing Yards in a Game: 554 

On September 28, 1951, the Los Angeles Rams didn't have injured starting quarterback Bob Waterfield for their season opener against the New York Yanks. But Norm Van Brocklin was more than up to the task, completing 27 of 41 passes for 554 yards and five touchdowns. The Rams won, 54-14, before 30,310 fans at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.

"It’s the finest exhibition of passing I’ve ever seen," Yanks coach Jimmy Phelan told the Los Angeles Times. "The Rams get their halfbacks down under the ball almost as deep as the ends and of course Van Brocklin was hitting ‘em in the eye practically every time he threw the ball.”

Said wisecracking Rams coach Joe Stydahar: “Our defensive team played a great game.” 

New Orleans Saints teammates congratulate Alvin Kamara after one of his record-tying six touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings in 2020.

New Orleans Saints teammates congratulate Alvin Kamara after one of his record-tying six touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings in 2020.

4. Most Touchdowns in a Game: 6 

On December 25, 2020, New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara rushed for a record-tying six touchdowns in the Saints' 52-33 win. Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals  (1929), Dub Jones (1951) of the Cleveland Browns and Gale Sayers (1965) of the Chicago Bears also scored six touchdowns in a single game. But Kamara is the only player to accomplish the feat since 1970, the season the NFL absorbed some teams from the American Football League. 

Kamara's  performance ended Minnesota’s playoff hopes in humiliating fashion, prompting Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to tell the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Yeah, this is a bad defense. Worst one I’ve ever had."

Attendance at the game at the Superdome in New Orleans was limited to 3,000 fans because of COVID-19.

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5. Most Sacks in a Game: 7 

On November 11, 1990, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker-defensive end Derrick Thomas played one of the greatest games by an NFL defender. But it could have been even better. With four seconds left, he had Seattle's Dave Krieg in his grasp for his eighth sack, but the quarterback slipped away and threw for a touchdown, giving Seattle a 17-16 victory.

"Down the road it may mean a lot," Thomas said. "But today it doesn’t mean anything. Our objective is to win the ballgame.” Said Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer: "That kind of effort is the thing you build championships on.” 

Sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982.

Thomas, who died in an auto accident in 2000, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

6. Most Rushing Yards in a Game: 296

On November 4, 2007, against the San Diego Chargers, Minnesota rookie running back Adrian Peterson topped Jamal Lewis' rushing record for a game by one yard. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised," Peterson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the Vikings' 35-17 win. "With the mindset that I had, and the guys I have up front, I know anything is possible.” 

7. Most Receiving Yards in a Game: 336 

On November 26, 1989, reigning NFL receiving yardage champion Henry Ellard was out with a hamstring injury for the Los Angeles Rams' game against New Orelans. That put the pressure on Flipper Anderson, who delivered an epic performance: 336 yards receiving on 15 catches in the Rams' 20-17 win in overtime.

Anderson, who came into the game averaging more than  30 yards per catch, was  shocked: “I never even dreamed of having a day like this," he told the Los Angeles Times.  

Said Rams coach John Robinson: “It was the greatest performance I’ve ever seen by a wide receiver.”

Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates his record-setting field goal.

Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates his record-setting field goal.

8. Longest Field Goal in a Game: 66 yards

On September 26, 2021, Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens booted a 66-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Detroit Lions, 19-17. The field goal by Tucker, one of the best kickers in NFL history, topped the previous record of 64 yards, set by the Denver Broncos' Matt Prater in the high altitude in Denver in 2013. 

"I love Detroit," Tucker told the media. "I think I'm going to buy a place here." In 2013, Tucker kicked a 61-yard field goal to beat the Lions, also at Ford Field in Detroit. 

Said Ravens coach John Harbaugh: "He's the best kicker in history. When you have a kicker like that, you want to give him an opportunity like that. For him to come through like that is just historic."

9. Longest Punt in a Game: 98 yards

On September 21, 1969, with his New York Jets backed up to the 1-yard line against Denver, rookie Steve O'Neal booted a punt that traveled 60 yards in the air and was missed by returner Bill Thompson at the Broncos' 33. The ball finally came to rest at Denver's 1-yard line. At 98 yards, it was the longest punt in NFL history. 

“I had to hurry my kick, but I knew I hit it real good,” O’Neal told the Asbury Park Press. The punt was the highlight for the defending champion Jets, who lost, 21-19. 

10. Most Solo Tackles in a Game: 20

On November 4, 2007, New York Jets rookie linebacker David Harris had an epic performance with 20 tackles, the most solo tackles in an NFL game by a player. But the record was barely mentioned in post-game coverage in New York. The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, suggested that Harris' tackle figure was inflated and some would be taken away after game film was reviewed. Solo tackles weren’t tracked as an official NFL statistic until 1994, so the relative newness of the statistic might have influenced coverage.  

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