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Norm Van Brocklin
1951 Opening Day: The Dutchman Goes Wild!
Los Angeles Rams Hall of Fame quarterback Norm "The Dutchman" Van Brocklin entered the 1951 season entrenched in a duel for the starting position with veteran Bob Waterfield.
A Waterfield injury sidelined the incumbent quarterback prior to the season opener against the New York Yanks on September 28, and opened the door for Van Brocklin to show his worth.
Norm Van Brocklin took advantage of the opportunity to produce the most prolific passing performance in NFL history.
Van Brocklin threw for an NFL record 554 yards in a 54-14 rout of the Yanks at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback tossed five touchdowns and completed 27 of 41 passes.
The mark still stands as the greatest single passing effort in National Football League history.
"It's the finest exhibition of passing I've ever seen," said Rams Coach Jimmy Phelan after the game. "Van Brocklin was hitting them in the eye practically every time he threw the ball." Van Brocklin, who passed away at the age of 57 in 1983, remained subdued about the performance. "Everything I threw seemed to be caught and run for a long gain," he said.
The Rams' Tom Fears averaged 23.1 yards on his seven catches and Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch averaged 19.2 on nine receptions. Los Angeles amassed an NFL record 735 total yards and 34 first downs.
"They don't need me out here anymore," said Waterfield after the game. The two quarterbacks would split time for the rest of the season as the Rams captured the 1951 NFL Championship.
Van Brocklin's record has stood for over 60 years.
Quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Warren Moon have come the closest to breaking Van Brocklin's mark.
In 2012, Schaub, then with the Houston Texans, passed for 527 yards against Jacksonville on November 18, while Moon had a 527-yard day for the Houston Oilers against Kansas City on December 16, 1990.
NFL QB's Who've Thrown for 500 Yards in a Single Game
Best Game Performances: Most Yards Passing by Level
|High School||Will Grier, Davidson Day, NC||Nov 9, 2012||837 yards vs. Harrells Christian, NC|
|High School||David Koral, Pacific Palisades, CA||Sep 22, 2000||764 yards vs. Grant, CA|
|NCAA Div III||Sam Durley, Eureka||Sep 1, 2012||736 yards vs. Knox|
|NCAA Div III||Zamir Amin, Menlo||Oct 7, 2000||723 yards vs. Cal Lutheran|
|NCAA Div II||J.J. Harp, Eastern New Mexico||Sep 12, 2009||695 yards vs. Southeastern OK|
|NCAA Div II||Andrew Webb, Fort Lewis||Nov 16, 2002||660 yards vs. Mesa St.|
|NCAA Div I-AA (FCS)||Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion||Sep 22, 2012||730 yards vs. New Hampshire|
|NCAA Div I-AA (FCS)||Robert Kent, Jackson St.||Oct 6, 2001||668 yards vs. Alabama St.|
|NCAA Division I-A (FBS)||Connor Halliday, Washington St.||Oct. 4, 2014||734 yards vs. California|
|NCAA Division I-A (FBS)||Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech||Oct. 22, 2016||734 yards vs. Oklahoma|
|NCAA Div I-A (FBS)||David Klingler, Houston||Dec 2, 1990||716 yards vs. Arizona St.|
|Arena Football||Clint Dolezel, Houston||May 14, 1999||479 yards vs. Milwaukee|
|CFL||Matt Dunigan, Winnipeg||Jul 14, 1994||713 yards vs. Edmonton|
|NFL||Norm Van Brocklin, LA Rams||Sep 28, 1951||554 yards vs. NY Yanks|
Best Passing Performances on Opening Day
|Norm Van Brocklin||L.A. Rams vs. N.Y. Yanks||9/28/51||554||41||27||5||2|
|Dan Marino||Miami vs. New England||9/4/94||473||42||23||5||1|
|Kurt Warner||St. Louis vs. Denver||9/4/00||441||35||25||3||3|
|Drew Bledsoe||New England vs. Miami||9/4/94||421||51||32||4||2|
|Glen Foley||N.Y. Jets vs. San Francisco||9/6/98||415||30||58||3||1|
|Pete Beathard||Houston vs. Kansas City||9/9/68||413||48||23||2||3|
|Phil Simms||N.Y. Giants vs. Philadelphia||9/2/84||409||30||23||4||0|
|Johnny Unitas||Baltimore vs. Atlanta||9/17/67||401||32||22||2||1|
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NFL Football Records: "Best Quarterback Performances Past & Present"