Despite all the media attention surrounding Calvin Johnson’s record attempt, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could also set a new NFL record this season. Stafford is nearing the all time single season record for passing attempts.
On the 2012 season, the Lions quarterback has 629 passing attempts in 14 games. Back in 1994 Drew Bledsoe set the record with 691 attempts. Stafford now needs only 63 passes in the next two weeks to surpass the mark set by the former New England Patriots quarterback. Stafford has been here before. In 2011, Stafford ended the season with 663 passing attempts, falling short of the record, but good enough for third place on the all time list.
Sandwiched in between Bledsoe and Stafford is the 2010 season of Peyton Manning that saw the quarterback attempt 679 passes in his final season as an Indianapolis Colt. Drew Brees holds the fourth and fifth spots on the list with 658 and 657 attempts in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The fact that four of the top five spots are held by quarterbacks from the last two seasons showcases the pass happy NFL. Stafford will appear on the list again thanks to the Lions pass heavy offense.
Stafford has had an up and down year with the 4-10 Lions. This week, I called for the Lions to start Shaun Hill after Stafford once again completed less than 50% of passes in a hard loss to the Arizona Cardinals. On the season, Stafford has 4252 yards and has completed 59.5% of passes. The Lions quarterback also has only 17 touchdowns on the season.
Stafford will likely pass the mark against the Chicago Bears in Week 17, but it is possible he could get the mark on Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons. Stafford averages 45 pass attempts a game and has thrown more than 50 passes three times this season, including 61 in an overtime loss to the Houston Texans. Stafford would tie a career high of 63 if he does break the record Saturday night.