A flash in the pan . . . or the real deal?

Granted, this is his third NFL season, but the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins had a 400-yard passing game Sunday against the Eagles in just his fifth NFL start. Not too shabby.

What’s surprising is how many quarterbacks have accomplished the feat just as quickly – or even more quickly. I came up with eight since 1960, and there could be a few more further back.


Date Quarterback (Year) Team Opponent Start Yds Result
9-11-11 Cam Newton (1st) Panthers Cardinals 1st 422 L, 28-21
1-1-12 Matt Flynn (4th) Packers Lions 2nd 480 W, 45-41
11-14-99 Jim Miller (6th) Bears Vikings 2nd 422 L, 27-24
11-29-87 Tom Ramsey (5th) Patriots Eagles 2nd 402 L, 34-31
9-30-12 Ryan Tannehill (1st) Dolphins Cardinals 4th 431 L, 24-21
11-10-02 Marc Bulger (2nd) Rams Chargers 4th 453 W, 28-24
9-21-14 Kirk Cousins (3rd) Redskins Eagles 5th 427 L, 37-34
12-21-69 Don Horn (3rd) Packers Cardinals 5th 410 W, 45-28
10-13-61 Jacky Lee (2nd) Oilers Patriots 5th 457 T, 31-31
12-13-04 Billy Volek (4th) Titans Chiefs 6th 426 L, 49-38
10-10-04 Tim Rattay (5th) 49ers Cardinals 6th 417 W, 31-28
9-6-98 Glenn Foley (4th) Jets 49ers 6th 415 L, 36-30

Note: Ramsey played two seasons in the USFL before joining the Patriots in 1985. Those years are counted as experience. . . . Newton also threw for 400 yards in his second NFL game/start (432 vs. the Packers in a 30-23 loss). . . . Volek also threw for 400 in his seventh start (492 vs. the Raiders in a 40-35 loss). . . . The combined won-lost record of the group is 4-7-1. Cousins, in other words, has plenty of company in his despair.

As you can see, only two Actual Rookies since 1960 (Newton and Tannehill) have had a 400-yard passing game in their first five starts. The other quarterbacks were in their second, third, fourth, fifth and even sixth season when they did it.

Also, just two of the dozen QBs listed have gone to the Pro Bowl: Newton and Bulger. The others, for the most part, could be described as Serviceable Backups.

So . . . make of Cousins’ big day what you will. Or maybe he should make of it what he will.


Date Quarterback (Year) Team Opponent Start Yds Result
11-4-12 Andrew Luck (1st) Colts Dolphins 8th 433 W, 23-20
9-8-13 Colin Kaepernick (3rd) 49ers Packers 8th 412 W, 34-28
11-22-09 Matt Stafford (1st) Lions Browns 8th 422 W, 38-37
11-3-13 Nick Foles (2nd) Eagles Raiders 9th 406 W, 49-20
11-13-08 Matt Cassel (4th) Patriots Jets 9th 400 L, 34-31

Source: pro-football-reference.com