Top 25 NFL Records That Will Never Be Broken
Top 25 NFL Records That Will Never Be Broken
In determining the 25 most unbreakable records in NFL history, much attention was paid to the ways that the modern professional game is changing.
Backfield committees are becoming more and more preferable. And sensible. Quarterbacks are launching it around more almost every ear. Advances in physical health and medicine leave wonder as to how much longer players and coaches can stick around. By that same token, advances make defensive players all the more dangerous on any given play, making basically any offensive streak in danger due to the brutal power of a hit.
Meanwhile, the storm around concussion effects and management continues to gather. This could certainly play a major role in what rules changes occur down the road and how this affects stats finding their way towards the record books.
Creating any all-time list also involves tough decisions in discerning the value of an era's numbers. I respect that Otto Graham won many consecutive NFL titles, but I don't value that as important as winning three straight post-merger. It's one thing to take the title repeatedly in a small fledgling league, it's another to do so with more than 20 teams competing.
Dealing with passing records was interesting when it came to assembling this list, as the quarterback position as a whole continues to grow in both overall skill and importance. With more and more athletic freaks like Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton excelling at the position, it will be interesting to see which records survive the longest.
25) San Francisco 49ers' 21 Consecutive Wins Away From Home
The Niners' five Super Bowls over a decade and a half narrowly missed this list (slash felt a little too arbitrary) but San Fran's golden years had to get some love. This streak encompassed two Super Bowl wins and portions of three years. The 2007 Patriots were the last team to get through one regular season without a road loss.
24) OJ Simpson's 143.1 Run Yards Per Game in a Full Season
Simpson racked up this absurd mark back in 1973 when backs only had 14 chances to throw out a dud killing their average. Adrian Peterson's 2012 campaign is perhaps the greatest by a running back in the modern era yet only hit 131.1 yards per game.
23) Brett Favre's 336 Career Interceptions Thrown
Favre blew away runner-up George Blanda's 277 along with many more positive passing records. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Eli Manning are the closest active players and none are even close to within 100.
22) Marshall Faulk, Earl Campbell's Three Consecutive OPOY Awards
To put the difficulty of racking up AP Offensive Player of the Years awards in perspective, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning only boast three combined for their entire careers. Campbell (1978-1980) and Faulk (1999-2001) each three-peated and no one has tallied two in a row since Faulk. Running backs do factor in here at a much higher rate than at QB-dominated MVP and receivers probably will also in the near future.
21) Barry Sanders' Four Straight 1,500-Yard Rushing Seasons
In today's game topping 1,500 yards provides a decent shot at the rushing title, especially given that it's only happened six times across the league since 2010. It was incredible even back in the more run-heavy days of the NFL as Sanders ripped off those monster years from 1994 to 1997.
20) Larry Johnson's 416 Carries in a Season
Johnson's workload in 2006 makes Adrian Peterson's total look light in comparison, which is an incredible feat in today's NFL. The only person to come very close this millenium is Eddie George back in 2000. LeSean McCoy and others might top 30 carries in a game here and there, but team's are just moving away from the overworked-horse mentality.
19) Craig Morton's 26.7% INT Rate in Playoff Game
We'll give the "Doomsday Defense" defense more recognition as this list goes along, but this record officially falls in the Denver Broncos' tally. Denver may have gone 14-2 on their way to a Super Bowl appearance in January 1978, but they benched their quarterback after Morton started the game 4-for-15 with four interceptions, before losing to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10. Hard to imagine how fans would have reacted if this playoff game had happened at Mile High.
18) Lou Groza Three-peats as League FG Leader
The nature of field goal attempts is just too random to expect a kicker to lead the league in field goals made three consecutive years again, as Groza did from 1952-1954. Not too mention Groza was just leaps and bounds better than the rest doing it back in the 1950s. The last person to even do it two years in a row was Pete Stoyanovich back in 1990-1991, and each year he merely shared the top total.
17) Marshall Faulk's 26 TDs Without Fumble in a Season
If I had to choose a list of the top-five running backs all-time, Hall of Fame inductee Faulk would probably have the lowest career rushing yards of the group by far. Obviously, it's his electric moves, nose for paydirt and ability to gash teams in a variety of ways that made him a sublime talent, but what goes most overlooked is his reliability.
16) Jason Hanson's 21 Seasons With Same Team
The inertia of the free agent era just means more and more players we identify with one pro team will eventually join another. This does not apply just to Peyton Manning or Brett Favre either. It's still weird to see Adam Vinatieri in another jersey. Hanson's 21 years kicking footballs in Detroit (1992-2012) is a testament to loyalty, longevity and good fortune.
15) Tom Landry's 20 Straight Winning Seasons
Bill Belichick and Co. have done about as amazing a job as you can in this parity-driven league, but the Pats still have eight seasons to go for the tie and Tom Brady's not playing past 45. What Tom Landry's crew did from 1966-1985 is untouchable.
14) Kerry Collins, Daunte Culpepper Fumble 23 Times in a Season
Collins and Culpepper were two streaky passers and legendary fumblers. Their paths would cross as Collins limited his turnovers in overcoming Culpepper in the 2001 NFC title game, before Collins coughed it up 23 times in 2001 and Culpepper did the same in 2002. Eventually the fumbling would join other factors in losing each their job. No player over the past five years has even finished in the top 40 all-time for this single-season mark.
13) Ed Reed's 1,541 Career INT Return Yards
Even while Reed has faded through the twilight of his career, he's retained that same incredible knack for being at the right place when a pass is tipped. He has the interception return down to a fine art, and over the past 10 years the Baltimore Ravens defense has found creative ways to turn turnovers into a Reed return show. This number could still move up with Reed on the Houston Texans, and the only player even close to halfway that has a few seasons left in the tank is Charles Tillman at 647 yards. Tillman is 32.
12) John Riggins' 136 Carries in Single Postseason
The way John Riggins singularly pounded the rock to a Super Bowl victory following the 1982 season is the stuff of legend. It is also the stuff of the past, as more and more the postseason is dominated by elite quarterbacks and diversified run offenses to keep guys fresh (enough) into February.
11) Paul Hornung Misses 26 FGs in a Season
David Akers attempted a bizarrely high 42 field goals last season, missed a horrifying 13 and surprised no one when he was released after the Super Bowl. Hornung was a centerpiece of the Green Bay Packers offense back in the early 1960s, so his 26 missed field goals in 1964 did not result in him getting kicked to the curb. That would not be the case for today's kicker well before he missed 26, and it's shocking that Akers even made it to 13.
10) Bernard Pollard's Streak of Ruining the Patriots' Life
Pollard has knocked out Tom Brady for a season, hampered Rob Gronkowski for a postseason, knocked out Stevan Ridley in the AFC title, was near Wes Welker when he went down in a meaningless Week 17 game and now it turns out that he was the last person to tackle at Aaron Hernandez. I know that's ultimately irrelevant to the murder case, but you can't make this stuff up.
9) Jim Brown's 8 Rushing Titles
Jim Brown's eight rushing titles come from a bygone era but I'm OK with that for the purposes of this list. Nowadays, running back by committee is en vogue and it's hard to get to through a full 16 games pounding without injury, let alone the rushing title. No one else has more than four rushing titles, so this seems pretty safe.
8) Derrick Thomas' 7 Sacks in a Game
Derrick Thomas made David Krieg's life a living misery on one fateful afternoon in November 1990. I'd imagine if Von Miller was going hog-wild to the tune of five sacks by the fourth quarter, the opposing team would begin devoting every blocker they have to him. Seven sacks is just too absurd; my tip of the cap to Thomas.
7) Dick "Night Train" Lane's 14 INTs in a Season
It feels like "Night Train" Lane makes every historical list I ever write, and he deserves it thanks to his 14-interception year in 1952. Today's NFL coaches and offensive coordinators are smart and attentive enough to generally stay away from a guy once he starts approaching double-digit picks mark, and I'd be surprised to see anyone hit 15.
6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 26-Game Losing Streak
The Bucs spent the first 26 games of their existence losing and losing repeatedly, going 0-14 in 1976 and 0-12 to start 1977. This combines for the worst losing streak in the league to this day. Hey, even the Jacksonville Jaguars can find a way to win now and then in the modern NFL.
5) Brett Favre's 321 Straight Quarterback Starts
Peyton Manning sort of had a shot at this record until spinal stenosis issues took him out for a year. Still, Manning's 227 consecutive starts at the quarterback position is probably as close as anyone will get to Brett Favre's the 321. The closest current streak is younger bro Eli's 146.
4) Baltimore Ravens' 165 Regular-Season Points Allowed
The 2000 Ravens somehow allowed only 165 points and it hasn't even been sniffed in the time since. The closest challenger in the ensuing the years came from the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an all-time great defense that still gave up 196 points during the regular season.
3) Jerry Rice's Career Receiving Yards Record
Calvin Johnson may have just smashed Jerry Rice's regular-season receiving yards record, but Rice holds the three career records that probably won't get touched in receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards. I think the most impressive of these is the career yards total which stands nearly 7,000 yards in front of second-placed Terrell Owens. Andre Johnson is almost halfway at 22,895 yards.
2) AFC's 13 Consecutive Super Bowl Losses
With all the parity in today's NFL and the odds of winning a single-elimination game never close to certain, it's almost humorous that the NFC won 13 consecutive Super Bowls from 1985 to 1997. Granted, pretty much half of this was the San Francisco 49ers or NFC East just whipping up on John Elway and the Denver Broncos or the Buffalo Bills, but it's still hard to imagine this kind of one-conference dominance happening in the free agent era.
1) Emmitt Smith's Career Rushing Yards Record
To put Emmitt Smith's breadth of work in perspective, the closest active player to his career rushing total has barely passed the halfway mark; and we all know Steven Jackson isn't breaking that at only 26th on the career list right now. Smith's 18,355-yard mark had one man with any chance at beating it and Barry Sanders retired young.