You can book it: This is the year Van Brocklin’s record comes down


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(Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Norm Van Brocklin’s single-game passing record of 554 yards has lasted 63 years, but at the rate quarterbacks are going … and at the rate records are falling … it may not last another 63 days.

I’m serious.

Last weekend, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger threw for a franchise-record 522 yards against what was then the league’s third-ranked defense, and he was one of four quarterbacks that day who threw for over 400. That’s not a coincidence. It’s a trend.

There are seven quarterbacks this season with over 400 yards in one game, and two — Joe Flacco and Nick Foles — with over 60 pass attempts. Flacco and Foles are not among the game’s top- shelf passers. Not yet, at least. But Drew Brees and Andrew Luck are, and Brees threw 57 times in one game, and Luck threw 53 times in another. If they don’t break Van Brocklin’s record this season it won’t be for lack of trying.

I think you get the picture: Norm Van Brocklin, your record is in deep kimchi.

It’s not that quarterbacks and wide receivers are that much better. It’s that the rules applied to them are that much different. Van Brocklin played in an era where quarterbacks threw down the field, not across it; where wide receivers were mugged by aggressive defensive backs; and where onrushing linemen destroyed the pocket by destroying the quarterback — sometimes with blows to the head.

Not anymore. With rules changes and rules emphases, quarterbacks are protected, wide receivers are untouched and defensive backs are handcuffed. Put them together, and you have a passing league where a third-string quarterback, Colt McCoy, sets a Washington franchise accuracy record for passers with at least 30 attempts by completing 83.3 percent of his attempts against the NFC’s first-place team.

Everywhere you look, offensive marks are under siege … and that includes running backs. Jim Brown held the record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games to start a season for 56 years. That changed this season when DeMarco Murray broke it, and he adds to it each weekend — with the mark at eight straight and counting.

But it’s the passing game where the walls come crashing down. The Colts’ Luck has thrown for 300 yards in his last six games, and, with another big performance Monday night, he ties Peyton Manning for the third most in NFL history.

Manning, of course, is the guy who last year not only set a league record for touchdown passes (55) but who opened they year by throwing for seven scores against defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. It tied the NFL record, and, as it was the first time it was done since 1969, it was supposed to be a testimony to Manning’s extraordinary ability.

Then Foles did it eight weeks later.

The message is as loud as it is clear: Norm Van Brocklin’s record is in serious danger of falling sooner or later –with the smart money on sooner. We live in an age where seven quarterbacks this week have passer ratings of 100 or better, including Kyle Orton — who never had a rating higher than 87.5 in a season with at least 50 attempts; where the average completion percentage is 63.2 and where the average for passing yards in one game is 244.

That tells me one thing. And it should tell you, too. It won’t be long before Norm Van Brocklin’s passing record joins Jim Brown’s rushing record.

In the rear-view mirror.

 

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