Remembering when 400 passing yards was special

How is it possible that more quarterbacks have already hit the 400-yard mark this season than in the entire 2007 NFL campaign? How has the game changed that much in such a short amount of time? 

Yup, four quarterbacks passed for 400 yards in '07. Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Jon Kitna and Carson Palmer, all once each. 

This year, 32 games in, we've already had six — Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Colin Kaepernick in Week 1 followed by Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers in Week 2. That's 40 percent of last year's total of 15 and 33 percent of the 2011 total of 18. There were only 11 in 2010, seven in 2009, eight in 2008, and only four in '07. 

And in 2005, the only NFL quarterback to hit the 400-yard mark was Marc Bulger when he went for 442 against the Giants in October. That's it. 

Scoring isn't up, but passing is. And these quarterbacks are more productive and efficient than ever.

There have been five 400-yard, zero-interception individual performances through the first two weeks, according to the NFL. That's only one behind the record for an entire season.

But let's go back a little further. Believe it or not, there were only five 400-yard performances during the entire decade of the 1970s. Charley Johnson, Ken Anderson, James Harris and Joe Namath twice. That's it. 

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, John Elway and Jim Kelly have a combined total of four all-time 400-yard games, which is less than Matthew Stafford (five).

Quarterbacks are averaging 6.4 net yards per pass attempt this season, which would be the highest single-season total in modern NFL history — one point higher than in 2011 and two higher than in 2012.

But this is strange: Only six of the 14 all-time 500-yard efforts took place this century, and Norm Van Brocklin's single-game record of 554 has been left standing for 62 years.

So the 500-yard passing game is still special and there's still a goal to be reached. But 400-yard games? Those are pedestrian nowadays.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.