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Peyton Manning and the 30 Greatest Single-Game Performances in NFL History

Sam McIntoshCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2016

Peyton Manning and the 30 Greatest Single-Game Performances in NFL History

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Unlike baseball, football IS America's favorite pastime. The National Football League, world class in structure and prominence, is the league all sports fans pay attention to. No matter what is one's favorite sport, nine times out of 10, they will be a football fan. 

    With a love for the NFL, I have seen many great performances. Some memorable, and some not. But this slideshow is dedicated to the best, most memorable performances in NFL history.

    There were a large amount of performances that were worthy of the list, so the condition and circumstances surrounding the game were important.

    I want to thank Bryn Swartz for his very helpful and insightful article used in this presentation.

    The list is in absolutely no order. 


Gale Sayers (RB), Chicago Bears, 1965

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    In 1965, as a rookie, Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears had six touchdowns. 

    In the rain and mud, Sayers had nine carries for 113 yards and four rushing touchdowns. He caught two passes for 89 yards and a TD. Sayers also returned five punts for 134 yards and and a TD.

    At the end of the day, Sayers had 336 total yards and six touchdowns on only 16 touches. 

    What a game for the rookie!

Steve Young (QB), San Francisco 49ers, 1995

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Steve Young started his career in the shadows of the best postseason quarterback of all time, Joe Montana. 

    The San Fran fans enjoyed Super Bowl titles in both 1989 and 1990. After a four year absence, and a dominating Dallas Cowboys team reigning as champs in the NFC, the 49ers found themselves back in the Super Bowl. 

    It was Super Bowl XXIX. Steve Young was incredible. 

    Young started his day with a 44-yard TD pass to Jerry Rice on the third play of the game. He would go on to score five more TDs. 

    His stat sheet read as follows: 24-of-36, 325 yards, six TD passing and five rushes for 59 yards.

Shaun Alexander (RB), Seattle Seahawks, 2002

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    On Sept. 29, 2002, Shaun Alexander set the NFL record for the most points in a half. He scored five first-half touchdowns, scoring three of them in a span of 1:05. 

Fred Dryer (DE), Los Angeles Rams, 1973

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    The most safeties in a career is four. The most in a season, held by 16 players, is two. 

    Fred Dryer had two against the Green Bay Packers Oct. 21, 1973. 

Adrian Peterson (RB), Minnesota Vikings, 2007

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Adrian Peterson has had quite a few memorable performances in his three-and-a-half years with the Vikings. None stand out more than his 2007 Week 8 performance against the San Diego Chargers.

    As a rookie, Peterson set the single-game NFL rushing record with 296 yards on 30 carries. He scored three touchdowns. 

Ernie Nevers (FB), Chicago Cardinals, 1929

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    Nevers set a record for individual points in a single game, scoring all six of the Cardinals' touchdowns and kicking four extra points, racking up 40 points against the crosstown rival Chicago Bears. 

Drew Bledsoe (QB), New England Patriots, 1994

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    Drew Bledsoe holds the record for most pass attempts and completions in a single game. 

    In that game, he was 45-of-70 with 426 yards passing and three touchdowns as he led the Patriots to an overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings. 

Norm Van Brocklin (QB), Los Angeles Rams, 1951

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    In 1950, Norm Van Brocklin set the single-game record for passing yards with 554.

    It was his first start as he was in place of the injured starter. The "Dutchman," as Van Brocklin was nicknamed, made the most of his opportunity.

    He completed 27-of-41 passes and tossed five touchdowns—four of which went to fellow Hall of Famer Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch—en route to an easy 54-14 win over the New York Yanks.

Arian Foster (RB), Houston Texans, 2010

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Houston Texans' biggest flaw in 2009 was the lack of a rushing game. Entering the 2010 season, there was a lot of chatter about Arian Foster, the Texans' new running back. Under great pressure, Foster shined in Week 1. 

    In his second NFL start, Foster ran for 231 yards and three TDs on 33 carries against the Indianapolis Colts. That's good for the second-best opening day rushing total in NFL history. 

    The start of the Foster era!

Brandon Marshall (WR), Denver Broncos, 2009

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Brandon Marshall broke the single-game reception record in this performance. 

    His stats were as follows: 

    21 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns. 

Willie Anderson (WR), Los Angeles Rams, 1989

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    With 336 yards on 15 receptions, Willie Anderson set the NFL record for receiving yards in a single game in 1989 against the New Orleans Saints.

Glyn Milburn (RB, Return Specialist), Denver Broncos, 1995

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    Milburn set an NFL record with 404 total yards against the Seattle Seahawks as he rushed for a career-high 18 times and a career-best 131 yards.

    He also caught five passes for 45 yards, returned five punts for 95 yards and brought back five kicks for 133 yards. 

Derrick Thomas (LB/DE), Kansas City Chiefs, 1990

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    In 1990 against the Seattle Seahawks, Derrick Thomas recorded seven sacks. That remains an NFL record. Thomas was a sack-machine and was recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

DeAngelo Hall (CB), Washington Redskins, 2010

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    DeAngelo Hall intercepted Jay Cutler four times—one for a touchdown—in Week 7 of this season. That ties an NFL record.

    The fourth INT, the one in which he scored on, was a spectacular one-handed grab. 

Joe Montana (QB), San Francisco 49ers, 1989

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    In the 1989 NFC Divisional Playoffs, Joe Montana proved why he is the best postseason quarterback in NFL history. 

    His stats, 26-of-30 for 262 yards and two touchdowns, aren't mind-blowing.

    However, Montana's efficiency and flawlessness were incredible. With his perfect passer rating, he put on a clinic as he led the 49ers to victory. 

    Joe was indeed 'cool.'

Kellen Winslow (TE), San Diego Chargers, 1981

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    In the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoffs against Miami, Kellen Winslow set a playoff record with 13 catches for 166 yards and a TD. 

    He then saved the game by blocking Uwe von Schamann's game-winning field goal attempt as time expired. 

Kurt Warner (QB), St. Louis Rams, 2000

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    Super Bowl XXXIV: Jan. 30, 2000

    From grocery store bagger to Super Bowl champion...

    Warner’s 1999 magic carpet ride ended with a 414-yard, two-touchdown performance—capped by a 73-yard scoring pass to Isaac Bruce late in the fourth quarter—that lifted the Rams to their first Super Bowl victory, 23-16, over the Titans.

    via the Washington Examiner

Jerry Rice (WR), San Francisco 49ers, 1990

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    Against the Atlanta Falcons in 1990, Jerry Rice caught five TD passes. He had 13 receptions and 225 yards receiving. 

    Rice has had dozens of games worth remembering. This was his best. 

Joe Montana (QB), San Francisco 49ers, 1990

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    In the same game as the previous slide, Montana threw for 426 yards and six TDs. 

    The 49ers sure have taken a few steps back these days.

Jim Brown (RB), Cleveland Browns, 1957

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    In 1957, as a rookie, Jim Brown set the NFL single-game rushing record against the L.A. Rams. He carried the ball 31 times for 237 yards and four TDs.

    This was the first of many incredible performances from Jim Brown.

Walter Payton (RB), Chicago Bears, 1977

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    On Nov. 20, 1977, Walter Payton rushed for 275 yards on 40 carries. That would remain a record for 23 years. 

Ty Law (CB), New England Patriots, 2003

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    In the 2003 AFC Championship, Ty Law dominated Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts offense.

    Shutting down Marvin Harrison and allowing only two catches, Law intercepted three of Manning's passes as the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl. 

Kurt Warner (QB), Arizona Cardinals, 2009

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Kurt Warner does it again!

    At the ripe age of 38, Warner pulverized the Green Bay Packers with his incredible accuracy and poise. 

    He was 29-of-33 passing with 379 yards and five touchdowns. With a rating of 154.1, this goes down as the best rated game with the most amount of passes in history. 

    Oh, it was also the playoffs.

Peyton Manning (QB), Indianapolis Colts, 2003

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    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    This list wouldn't be complete without arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, Peyton Manning. 

    In the 2003 AFC Wild Card game, Manning was flawless. 

    He was 22-of-26 for 377 yards and five touchdowns against the Broncos' potent pass defense. His rating was 158.3.

    In the next game, he would go 22-of-30 passing with 304 yards and three touchdowns. He fell apart in the AFC Championship, thanks to the aforementioned Ty Law.

Peyton Manning (QB), Indianapolis Colts, 2004

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    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    One year after picking apart the Bronco's potent secondary, Manning plays deja vu. 

    In the 2004 AFC Wild Card game, Manning was 27-of-33 for 458 yards and four touchdowns. 

    Once again, Manning would dominate the Broncos.

Sid Luckman (QB), Chicago Bears, 1941

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    Sid Luckman led the Bears to a 41-21 victory over Sammy Baugh and the Redskins in the NFL championship game.

    He completed 15-of-26 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns. His 135.6 passer rating almost tripled the league average (48.6), and his five touchdowns were a single-game record.

    That wasn't all though.

    Sid Luckman ran eight times for 64 yards. He returned two punts for 32 yards. He punted three times. And he intercepted two passes for 39 yards.

    No player in NFL history contributed more to a single victory than Sid Luckman, who did everything but sell tickets for the Bears on December 26, 1943. 

    Sid Luckman capped off the greatest single-season by a quarterback in NFL history by turning in the greatest single-game postseason performance in NFL history.

    -Bryn Swartz in the article,

Dub Jones (WR), Cleveland Browns, 1951

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    On Nov. 25, 1950, Jones had the game of a lifetime. Against the Bears, Jones scored four rushing TD and ran for 116 yards. He added 77 yards and two receiving TDs. 

    The final stat line: four carries for 116 yards, two receptions for 77 yards and six TDs.

Brett Favre (QB), Green Bay Packers, 2003

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The day after his father unexpectedly died, Favre shredded the Oakland Raiders pass defense on Monday Night Football. 

    He passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers beat the Raiders, 41-7 in Oakland. The Raiders fans cheered for Favre as he had one of the most courageous performances in sports history. 

    After this game, Favre moved into second all-time in touchdowns, passing Fran Tankerton.

Dan Marino (QB), Miami Dolphins, 1986

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Marino had his career-best performance in a loss to the New York Jets. Marino was 30-of-50 passing with 448 yards and six touchdowns as the Dolphins lost 51-45. 

    Unfortunately, this theme would continue for Marino as he would never win a Super Bowl. He is easily the best player of all time to never get a ring. 

Drew Brees (QB), New Orleans Saints, 2009

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Drew Brees was flawless in Super Bowl XLIV. He led the New Orleans Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl victory in a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. 

    Brees was incredibly efficient, completing 32-of-39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. He gave the Saints the attitude and poise to beat the high-powered Colts. 

    His numbers were great, but his preparation and leadership were even better. 

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