NFL

Top 10 Single-Season Performances in NFL History

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The Greatest NFL Single-Season Performances

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Every now and then we're privileged to watch a season for the ages. These seasons come on without warning, and sometimes all the stars just align. The one thing you can say for sure about great single-season performances, is that the players keep outdoing themselves. History repeats itself 10 and 20 years down the road, only slightly better than before.

Some of the seasons we'll look at were record-breaking seasons, and others are just remarkable. There are some performances so good, that they don't have to be record-breaking to be considered with the greatest.

What these players have done, and what some of them are still doing, is raising the bar. The bar is constantly moving upward when it comes to statistics and significant marks. But once somebody achieves a new level of success, it then becomes the new standard. Marks that were once thought of as impossible to reach, are suddenly within the realm of possibility.

There's no exact formula for a great season, but it's safe to say that it takes a lot of working parts. Sometimes it's a quarterback finally getting that No. 1 receiver he needed, or sometimes it's a player just getting a shot, period. There are a lot of factors that go into these great seasons, besides the play of the star.

Some of these seasons will continue to stand the test of time, because they're just too remarkable to ever be forgotten. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the greatest single-season performances in NFL history:

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Calvin Johnson - 2012

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USA Today Sports

Megatron had one of the all-time great seasons in 2012. The receiver set a record with 1,964 receiving yards, averaging a whopping 122.8 yards per game. There aren't any sure things when it comes to the NFL, but throwing one up to No. 81 is about as close as it gets.

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Devin Hester - 2007

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Hester tied an NFL record during his rookie campaign with five kick returns for touchdowns in 2006, but he took things up a notch in 2007 by returning six kicks during the regular season. This guy was the ultimate x-factor, and by mid-season, nobody would kick to him. Teams were happy to give away a few free yards by kicking out of bounds, rather than put the ball in Hester's hands. His performance in the 2007 season is something like we've never seen before, or since.

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Kurt Warner - 1999

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USA Today Sports

Warner had one of the greatest seasons we've ever seen in 1999, and it happened to basically be his first in the NFL. The out-of-nowhere QB threw for 4,353 yards and completed passes at an amazing 65.1% clip. But his ridiculous 41 TD to 13 INT ratio, stands out most of all. Warner ended up leading the St. Louis Rams all the way to a Super Bowl victory, while taking home regular season and SB MVP honors.

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Lawrence Taylor - 1986

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USA TODAY Sports

The real LT was a beast throughout his career, but 1986 may have been the best year of them all. Taylor racked up a career-high 20.5 sacks on his way to not only Defensive Player of the Year honors, but also MVP honors. LT was the first defensive player since 1971 to win the award, and no other defender has won it since.

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LaDainian Tomlinson - 2006

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USA Today Sports

Tomlinson's 2006 campaign was one for the ages. The running back would go on to set numerous records, including rushing touchdowns (28), total touchdowns (31) and points (186). He also accumulated an astounding 2,323 yards from scrimmage, on his way to MVP honors.

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Dan Marino - 1984

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USA Today Sports

Marino broke six individual records in 1984, on his way to the first 5,000-yard passing season in league history. He found the end zone an amazing 48 times, while completing passes at a 64.2% clip. Many of his marks stood for 20 years, until a couple other QBs on this list decided to set the bar even higher.

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Peyton Manning - 2004

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USA Today Sports

Manning had already proven that he was one of the best to ever play QB by 2004, but in case people weren't sold, he went out and had a season of epic proportions. Manning broke Marino's single-season touchdown record by tossing 49, and he did it in 26 fewer passes. On top of that, he only played one series in final game of the year.

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Adrian Peterson - 2012

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USA Today Sports

AP's 2012 season was nothing short of remarkable. Forget the fact that he was coming off of ACL and MCL reconstructive surgery, and he still had one of the best seasons ever. Peterson went on to rush for 2,097 yards, while carrying the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. No matter how many defenders lined up in the box, it didn't matter, AP was unstoppable on his way to MVP honors.

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Eric Dickerson - 1984

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USA Today Sports

The man AP failed to top in 2012, was none other than Eric Dickerson. His nearly 30-year old mark of 2,105 rushing yards in a single-season, is one of the greatest feats in NFL history. He averaged a beastly 131.6 yards per game in 1984 on his way to first team All-Pro honors. He would have been MVP if it weren't for Marino, but we can all see whose record is still standing today.

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Tom Brady - 2007

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USA Today Sports

Brady absolutely tore it up in 2007. He threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns, while completing passes at a burning 68.9% clip. Video game numbers aren't that good sometimes. Brady would go on to lead the Patriots to an undefeated regular season, while taking home MVP honors. His 2007 campaign is the bar for QBs today.