A ‘perfect game’ in the NFL is really somewhat rare for a starting quarterback, though not impossible, as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger proved on Thursday night, posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in a performance in which he completed 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.
It was the third perfect game by a quarterback this season, as Jared Goff and Russell Wilson also managed it earlier this year, back in Week Four and Week Seven, respectively. But nobody has a perfect passer rating in the previous two seasons. There have only been 13 in the past decade, among quarterback who threw at least 10 passes (generally, to filter out anomalies).
Since 2004, there have only been 19 ‘perfect’ games by a quarterback. Roethlisberger now has four of them. And that is now more than any other quarterback has ever had in NFL history, breaking a three-way tie with Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, each of whom accomplished it three times in their long careers.
For Roethlisberger, his first three all occurred within his first four seasons in the league, the first coming in 2005, the year they won the Super Bowl. He completed nine of just 11 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. He did it twice in 2007 (he is also the only player to have two perfect passer ratings in a single season).
11 years later, he had his record-breaking fourth. If that sounds like a long time, it’s not actually the longest between games. Craig Morton had his first game with a perfect passer rating in 1969, and his second only came in 1981.
Roethlisberger has thrown five touchdown passes in two of his perfect games. While three players have thrown for more than five touchdowns in a game with a perfect passer rating, nobody else has had two such games with five or more.
In case you were wondering, Roethlisberger’ first perfect game holds the record for the most yards per attempt in such games. With 218 yards on just 11 attempts, he had nearly 20 yards per attempt, and nobody else has had 19. Every one has had at least 12 and a half yards per attempt, though.
Tom Brady has had two perfect games. Drew Brees, one. Joe Montana had one. Steve Young had just one. Many other greats, such as Dan Marino, never even did it once, which should illustrate how rare a feat it is, and how remarkable it is to do it four times in a career.
Of course, there is only token value in throwing a ‘perfect’ game. A perfect passer rating itself is a statistical anomaly and doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s one of the greatest games ever had. But, well, it’s better to have one than not. Or, you now, four of them.