Can You Identify These Single-Season NFL Record-Holders?

By: Gavin Thagard

In 2018, Drew Brees passed Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in a career. Even though he's 39, the veteran quarterback doesn't appear to be slowing down.

Matthew Stafford attended college at the University of Georgia. After three seasons in Athens, Stafford entered the 2009 NFL draft and was taken by the Lions with the first-overall pick.

Only five players have thrown for over 5,000 yards in a season. Dan Marino was the first to accomplish the feat in 1984, only his second year in the league.

Larry Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards in his senior season at Penn State. That year, he won the Maxwell Award, the Doak Walker Award, and the Walter Camp Award.

Eric Dickerson had a controversial career at SMU where he was accused of taking money to play for the school. After he left, the school received the death penalty and wasn't allowed to field a football team for a year.

LaDainian Tomlinson's NFL career was shortened by injuries. However, during his height, he was one of the greatest running backs to ever carry the football.

Kerry Collins helped the Giants reach the Super Bowl in 2000. His team lost the championship to the Ravens, who had one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.

Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory in the 2015-16 season. After winning his second title, Manning retired from the NFL.

LaDainian Tomlinson was the NFL rushing touchdowns leader three separate years. In his best season, he scored 31 touchdowns from scrimmage.

Selected by the Texans, David Carr was the first pick in the 2002 NFL draft. Carr spent only five seasons with the team before he was released.

O.J. Simpson started a career in Hollywood after leaving the NFL. His post-NFL life has been shrouded with controversy, particularly relating to the death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

In 2002, Marvin Harrison caught 143 passes for 1,722 yards. The next closest players are Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, who both caught 136 passes in 2015.

Dave Zastudil left Ohio University in 2002 and entered the NFL draft. He was one of only two punters to be taken in the draft when he was selected in the fourth round.

Not wanting to return to a losing team, Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL in 2015. The NFL legend was still at the height of his career when he retired, catching 88 passes for 1,214 yards during the 2015 season.

George Blanda's 26 seasons in the NFL is the most in league history. Aside from being a quarterback, Blanda also was a placekicker, particularly in the latter part of his career.

At 5 ft 6 in, Darren Sproles has had to use his speed to make a name for himself in the NFL. He's done well, racking up nearly 20,000 all-purpose yards throughout his career.

Dick Lane was elected to seven Pro Bowls throughout his career. His first Pro Bowl selection came in 1954, and his final selection was in 1962.

MarTay Jenkins had a very short career in the NFL. Other than making the practice squad for various teams, he only played from 1999 until 2002 for the Arizona Cardinals.

Darren Sharper knew how to score touchdowns even though he played defense. During his career, he scored 13 defensive touchdowns, tied for an NFL record.

Peyton Manning would set numerous NFL records by the time of his retirement, including passing touchdowns in a career. However, if he could take back the touchdowns he threw to the defense, he would.

Drew Brees, who plays for the Saints, was originally drafted by the Chargers. However, Brees injured his shoulder in 2005 and had to undergo surgery, so the Chargers decided to part ways with the quarterback.

After being drafted by the Falcons, Michael Vick missed part of his NFL career because of prison time served for his part in a dogfighting​ scandal. Luckily, when he was released from prison, the Eagles took a chance on Vick, and he enjoyed some late-career success with the team.

The Patriots finished the 2007 regular season with an undefeated record. After reaching the Super Bowl, the Patriots lost to the Giants, keeping them away from becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history.

Devin Hester was one of the greatest return men in NFL history. Strangely, he was drafted as a cornerback but later became a wide receiver after having success as a return man.

The Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI 35-21. Brett Favre was the star of the Packers, but Desmond Howard shined the biggest in the Super Bowl.

David Akers kicked a 63-yard field goal in 2012 while playing for the 49ers. That was tied for an NFL record until Matt Prater beat it in 2013.

Michael Strahan became a television personality after leaving the NFL. He's been both a football analyst for Fox and a host on Good Morning America.

At only 6ft, Drew Brees was overlooked coming out of college. He was the second quarterback taken but wasn't selected until the second round.

Only his fourth season in the league, James Wilder made a Pro Bowl in 1984. It was the only season he was given the honor.

In 2013, Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard field goal, the longest field goal in NFL history. He also set the Detroit Lions' record by kicking a 59-yard field goal in 2016.

Wes Chandler retired in the middle of the 1988 season due to lingering injuries. He went on to coach several professional and collegiate teams, particularly as a wide receivers coach.

Danny Reece was selected out of Southern California in the third round of the 1976 NFL draft. He only played five seasons in the NFL, all with the Buccaneers.

Dwayne Rudd is most remembered for removing his helmet prematurely in the 2002 season opener when he was playing for the Browns in a game against the Chiefs. The Browns had the game in the bag when Rudd took his helmet off on the field prior to the game ending, giving the Chiefs the chance to win the game on a field goal, which they did.

Matthew Stafford played his first professional game in the season opener of his rookie season against the Saints. In the game, he threw three interceptions and no touchdowns.

Though he played before the Super Bowl era, Jack Christiansen won three NFL championships with the Lions. One of those championships came in 1952, his second year in the league.

Hardy Nickerson's change from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense when he joined the Buccaneers in 1993 changed his career. Playing in the 4-3 defense, Nickerson was elected to five Pro Bowls.

Randall Cunningham initially retired from the NFL at the end of the 1995 season. However, after missing a single season in 1996, he returned in 1997 to play for the Vikings.

Calvin Johnson passed 11,000 receiving yards for his career in only 127 games. He hit that mark faster than any other receiver in NFL history.

J.J. Watt led the league in sacks twice in his NFL career. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times.

Instead of going to college, Michael Lewis played in various other professional football leagues including the PIFL and the AFL. He finally made the Saints main roster in 2001.

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Image: Wiki Commons by Keith Allison

About This Quiz

It's the end of the regular season, and the final game is sure to bring plenty of action, especially for those teams fighting for a playoff spot. Of course, as much fun as it is to watch those teams go at it, there is as much delight in watching a player who's on the verge of breaking a single-season record. With one game left to accomplish a feat that will put them in the record books, can they do it? 

There is just something special about a record-setting season in the NFL. Maybe it's the hype that builds up to the moment the record is passed, maybe it's the player who keeps brushing off the record until he's only a few yards from breaking it, or maybe it's just the story we create in our minds to give meaning to the regular season as we wait for the playoffs to start, but every eye is glued to the television when the moment finally comes for a record to break. 

How well do you know the single-season record holders in the NFL? Do you know what these players accomplished and when they accomplished it? 

If you're up for the challenge, see if you can set your own personal record by getting a 40 out of 40 on this quiz! 

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