Essentially the most memorable seasons by NFL backup quarterbacks

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Quarterback accidents yearly power groups to make changes. Groups’ second choices underneath heart have made appreciable impacts on a number of events all through NFL historical past. Listed here are the very best seasons submitted by backup quarterbacks.


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25. Erik Kramer, 1991

Erik Kramer, 1991

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Rodney Peete’s October 1991 Achilles tear opened the door for Kramer, a CFL veteran who had joined the Lions a yr prior. Kramer stays the one QB to guide a Lions playoff victory since 1957. The previous undrafted free agent quarterbacked the Lions to 6 straight wins to shut the common season, giving Detroit the NFC Central title. Whereas Barry Sanders factored in prominently in that run and did ship this epic scamper within the Lions’ playoff win, the Cowboys largely contained him in that divisional-round sport. Kramer’s 341-yard, three-TD efficiency piloting Detroit’s Silver Stretch offense spurred a 38-6 demolition


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24. Tony Romo, 2006

Tony Romo, 2006

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Romo started his fourth Cowboys season as a backup, however the second-most well-known Drew Bledsoe benching sequence started one other prolonged QB1 run in October 2006. 5 years after Tom Brady took over for an injured Bledsoe, Romo changed a wholesome model — within the veteran’s closing season. Romo injected some life into the Cowboys’ final Parcells season, main the NFL with 8.6 yards per try and serving to Dallas return to the playoffs. A Professional Bowler regardless of beginning simply 10 video games, the previous Jap Illinois UDFA stored the gig till 2016. Although, Romo’s first starter season ended along with his notorious botched area purpose maintain in Seattle.


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23. James Harris, 1974

James Harris, 1974

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The Rams acquired a spellbinding provide for his or her unique 1974 starter, John Hadl, in October. They unloaded him to the Packers. That commerce burned Inexperienced Bay, however Los Angeles stored its ship going behind Hadl’s backup. Harris led the NFC in passer ranking (85.1), earned Professional Bowl acclaim, and helped the Rams to their first title sport of any type since 1955. Harris led a double-digit comeback over the Vikings within the common season, and though a Minnesota goal-line stand gave the hosts a Tremendous Bowl IX berth within the groups’ rematch, Harris — the primary Black QB to begin a playoff sport — greater than justified GM Don Klosterman’s choice to unload Hadl.


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22. Jeff Hostetler, 1990

Jeff Hostetler, 1990

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Phil Simms’ backup of six years, Hostetler lastly acquired his probability when the longtime Giants starter suffered a foot harm in Week 15. Whereas these Giants had been a ground- and defense-based power, Hostetler delivered high quality game-managerial work in his 5 begins to cement the staff’s second Tremendous Bowl victory. The mustachioed fill-in eclipsed 200 passing yards in only one begin (Tremendous Bowl XXV), however he led a Giants upset of the 49ers — derailing the NFL’s greatest three-peat try — and guided a two-score Giants comeback in opposition to the Payments. Hostetler’s late-season effort led to a two-year QB controversy with Simms.


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21. Stan Humphries, 1992

Stan Humphries, 1992

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Bobby Ross went with 34-year-old Bob Gagliano to begin his first season as Chargers head coach however pivoted to the staff’s late-summer commerce acquisition quickly after. Humphries’ effort led to his changing into by far essentially the most notable Bolts QB between Dan Fouts and Drew Brees. Humphries misplaced his first three begins however lifted San Diego to a 12-1 document over the staff’s subsequent 13 video games. This included a wild-card shutout over a Chiefs staff that notched a regular-season sweep. The previous Washington backup’s 3,356 passing yards ranked fifth that season, one which propelled him to a six-year keep because the staff’s starter.


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20. Nick Foles, 2013

Nick Foles, 2013

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4 years earlier than his career-defining winter, Foles ensured Chip Kelly’s NFL profession started with a shiny spot. The second-year passer didn’t exchange an injured Michael Vick till Week 5, however he ended the season with a staggering 27-2 TD-INT ratio. Seven of these tosses got here in a record-tying efficiency in opposition to the Raiders — a blowout throughout which Foles was eliminated early — however the Arizona alum produced all through an Eagles NFC East-winning season. Due partially to Kelly’s accelerated offense, Foles was solely working with a Twenty ninth-ranked protection. He went toe-to-toe with Drew Brees in a slender wild-card loss as nicely.


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19. Earl Morrall, 1972

Earl Morrall, 1972

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4 years after his 1968 MVP season, Morrall contributed to the NFL’s lone good slate. The Dolphins claimed Morrall on waivers in April 1972, reuniting him with ex-Colts HC Don Shula, who dissuaded the 38-year-old passer from retiring. Morrall turned essential that season when Bob Griese suffered a damaged proper leg and dislocated ankle in Week 5. Although outfitted with an elite run sport and protection, Morrall led Miami to 9 wins to shut out a 14-0 common season. The Seventeenth-year QB additionally piloted a game-winning drive to raise the Dolphins over the Browns within the divisional spherical, earlier than giving solution to Griese within the AFC title sport.


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18. Brett Favre, 1992

Brett Favre, 1992

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The long run famous person started his first Packers season as Don Majkowski’s backup. Three seasons earlier than, “The Magic Man” had guided the Packers to a 10-6 season — their first double-digit win marketing campaign since 1972 — and completed behind solely Joe Montana in MVP voting (a landslide, however nonetheless). Favre’s compelled entrance, resulting from a Week 3 Majkowski ankle harm, ought to most likely be the trendy Wally Pipp reference. Favre started his Lou Gehrig routine with a Professional Bowl season (3,227 yards, 18 TD passes) that left the Pack simply shy of the playoffs. The one-year Falcons flameout made each Packers QB begin for the subsequent 15 years.


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17. Trent Dilfer, 2000

Trent Dilfer, 2000

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Definitely extra caretaker than area normal, Dilfer nonetheless woke up a Baltimore offense that had gone touchdown-less in Tony Banks’ closing 4 begins. Brian Billick’s midseason substitute, who had signed with the Ravens after a 1999 midseason harm ended his Buccaneers run, did sufficient to let the storied Baltimore protection dominate. Dilfer (eight regular-season begins) didn’t notch a 200-yard passing sport within the playoffs, however he threw only one interception. That supplied greater than sufficient cowl for the Ravens’ protection, which benefited from this piece of game-managerial historical past. 


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16. Jim Harbaugh, 1995

Jim Harbaugh, 1995

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After his Bears launch, Harbaugh turned the Colts’ 1994 starter. However 1995 free company add Craig Erickson started the subsequent yr as Indianapolis’ QB1. Harbaugh taking up in Week 3 modified the franchise’s fortunes and set the desk for the staff’s solely AFC championship look between 1971 and 2003. The long run fiery HC earned a “Captain Comeback” moniker, main the Colts on 4 game-winning drives and topping the NFL in passer ranking (100.4). Indy wanted all these drives to sneak into the playoffs, however Harbaugh’s staff upset the Chargers and Chiefs — with out assist from injured Marshall Faulk — and almost spoiled the Steelers’ Tremendous Bowl bid.


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15. Doug Flutie, 1998

Doug Flutie, 1998

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The 1998 Payments are certainly one of simply 5 non-strike-year groups to begin 0-3 and make the playoffs. Flutie, 12 years after hindering a Bears Tremendous Bowl run, saved a swiftly sinking Buffalo season. Changing Rob Johnson in Week 5, Flutie recaptured his kind as an American QB icon — 14 years after his Heisman marketing campaign. The CFL legend, at 36, led the Payments to a 10-6 document. Delivering as a passer and runner, the 5-foot-9 QB — in a stretch peaking along with his game-winning bootleg in opposition to the playoff-bound Jaguars — re-established himself as an NFL passer. His 360-yard effort in a wild-card sport in Miami proved inadequate, nevertheless.


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14. Ryan Tannehill, 2019

Ryan Tannehill, 2019

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Sure, Tannehill benefited from Derrick Henry’s first speeding title. However Marcus Mariota had the identical luxurious. By Week 6, the Titans had been 2-4. The previous Dolphins first-rounder/harm danger has not seemed again since taking up as Tennessee’s triggerman. Tannehill accomplished 70% of his passes, and his 9.6 yards per try stays a top-10 all-time determine. Serving to put A.J. Brown on the map shortly, Tannehill completed his first Titans yr with a 22-6 TD-INT ratio and — because of a big Henry help in Foxborough and Baltimore — the staff in its first AFC title sport since 2002. 


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13. Chad Pennington, 2002

Chad Pennington, 2002

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Changing Vinny Testaverde early in 2002, Pennington made Herm Edwards’ “You play to win the sport” providing a seminal NFL mantra. The Jets eased the 2000 first-rounder into their beginning position, giving Testaverde two full seasons earlier than turning to the Marshall alum. Pennington guided Gang Inexperienced out of a 1-3 gap. By season’s finish, Pennington had outdueled the likes of Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning to energy a rejuvenated Jets outfit to the divisional spherical. That yr’s completion proportion chief, at 69%, completed with a 22-6 TD-INT ratio. Pennington led the Jets to 2 extra playoff brackets within the 2000s.


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12. Dave Krieg, 1983

Dave Krieg, 1983

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Behind rookie sensation Curt Warner, the Seahawks made a shock run to the AFC championship sport. However the staff made a midseason quarterback change to assist ignite the surge as nicely. Chuck Knox benched Jim Zorn for Krieg, a former UDFA out of Division III Milton Faculty. Seattle’s Warner-Krieg-Steve Largent offense powered the franchise to its first playoff berth. Krieg completed fourth in passer ranking and second in yards per try (8.8) in his first go-round because the Seahawks’ starter. After a three-TD wild-card sport in opposition to Denver, Krieg led Seattle to a divisional-round comeback in an upset in Miami. 


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11. Nick Foles, 2017

Nick Foles, 2017

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Foles’ presence represented why the Eagles had been residence underdogs in each their NFC playoff video games. It additionally modified a franchise’s big-stage fortunes. Losers of 4 NFC title video games from 2001-08 and losers of each Tremendous Bowls they’d performed, the Eagles noticed a backup power Invoice Belichick’s protection to bend and break. Carson Wentz’s December ACL tear summoned Foles, who sliced up the Giants in Week 15 however struggled within the weeks that adopted. Foles was masterful in an NFC championship rout of Minnesota, and he etched his identify on the QB2 Mt. Rushmore by flaming the Patriots for 373 yards and three TDs (and scoring one other through the “Philly Particular.”


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10. Doug Williams, 1987

Doug Williams, 1987

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Williams’ comeback got here near occurring in Los Angeles, somewhat than Washington. Joe Gibbs backed out of an August 1987 commerce with the Raiders, one that will have introduced mid-round compensation, to maintain Williams as Jay Schroeder’s backup. Williams ultimately rewarded Gibbs’ choice. Changing Schroeder on a number of events, Williams led Washington to a Week 1 comeback win over the Eagles but additionally misplaced each his regular-season begins. Given the keys for good in Week 16, Williams powered Washington to Tremendous Bowl XXII. His 340-yard, four-TD efficiency in opposition to Denver stays a defining NFL big-stage outing. Schroeder was a Raider by 1988.


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9. Tobin Rote, 1957

Tobin Rote, 1957

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Rote is liable for main groups to NFL and AFL championships, forming a one-man QB membership right here. The primary a part of that twin accomplishment got here in his first Lions season when Bobby Layne suffered a damaged ankle in Week 11. As a result of the Lions and 49ers every completed 8-4, a Western Convention playoff commenced. San Francisco’s 20-point third-quarter lead vanished, with Rote main a 31-27 win. He then made a late entry into the Lions-Browns rivalry, throwing for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns to present Detroit a 59-14 win to present Detroit a 3-1 edge within the groups’ 4 Nineteen Fifties title video games. 


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8. Case Keenum, 2017

Case Keenum, 2017

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Keenum’s 2017 will possible be a one-hit-wonder, however this season lifted the Vikings to heights they haven’t hit with Kirk Cousins. After Sam Bradford’s harm hassle resurfaced that September, Keenum — on a one-year, $2 million contract after ceding his Rams job to Jared Goff in 2016 — drove the Vikes to 11 wins and the NFC’s No. 2 seed. Mike Zimmer’s constant protection helped the journeyman, however Keenum (3,547 yards, 22-7 TD-INT ratio) led the league in quarterback DVOA. A Saints defensive miscue raised the profile of this season, sure, however Keenum nonetheless went backwards and forwards with Drew Brees in a divisional-round traditional. 


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7. Tom Brady, 2001

Tom Brady, 2001

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Inserting Brady’s debut is troublesome. The defense-fueled Patriots didn’t ask Drew Bledsoe’s backup to do an excessive amount of, and the staff benefited from the controversial “Tuck Rule” to steal a playoff victory. Bledsoe additionally guided the Pats previous the Steelers within the AFC title sport, after Brady went down. And, Spygate. However the 2000 Pats went 5-11. The ’01 version went 14-3 in Brady’s regular-season and playoff begins, and the longer term NFL icon was not precisely focusing on an elite skill-position corps. Brady’s closing drive in Tremendous Bowl XXXVI — to take down a closely favored Rams staff — signaled a defining American sports activities turning level. 


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6. Joe Kapp, 1969

Joe Kapp, 1969

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After holding off commerce acquisition Gary Cuozzo in 1968, Kapp started the subsequent season behind the youthful passer. However Bud Grant reversed course in Week 2, placing the previous CFL star again underneath heart. The Vikings voyaged to their first Tremendous Bowl, and Kapp completed the yr because the NFL’s MVP runner-up behind Rams QB Roman Gabriel. Kapp completed with a 19-13 TD-INT ratio, a break up a lot better for the period than such a pairing would look at present and supplied key speeding contributions in two playoff wins — over the Rams and Browns. Whereas the Chiefs Corridor of Famer-laden protection stalled the Vikes, Kapp loved his greatest season in 1969.


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5. Dak Prescott, 2016

Dak Prescott, 2016

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Tony Romo’s preseason again harm ended one Cowboys backup’s feel-good story and started one other’s. Prescott making Mississippi State briefly related didn’t result in draft buzz, with the Cowboys snagging him in Spherical 4 — throughout a draft during which Jerry Jones lamented lacking out on Paxton Lynch. Dak did stroll into favorable circumstances: a dominant offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott alongside him. However the Cowboys went 13-2 with their starters. Prescott, main 4 game-winning drives, was a giant a part of that. The twin-threat QB’s Offensive Rookie of the Yr season, which concerned a shootout with Aaron Rodgers, might now be a bit underrated.


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4. Jim Plunkett, 1980

Jim Plunkett, 1980

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The oft-hit Dan Pastorini, in his first weeks as Oakland’s starter, sustained a fractured tibia and cartilage harm. This introduced in Plunkett, a former No. 1 total choose who spent the earlier two seasons as Ken Stabler’s backup. This season marked a Plunkett pivot level, with the Raiders returning to the playoffs for the primary time in three years. Whereas Browns kicking points helped the Raiders survive a frigid Cleveland contest, they turned the primary wild-card Tremendous Bowl champion underneath Plunkett, who totaled 522 passing yards and 5 TDs within the AFC title sport and Tremendous Bowl XV.


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3. Colin Kaepernick, 2012

Colin Kaepernick, 2012

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Kaepernick’s starter intro affords an honest pattern dimension (seven regular-season begins) and postseason glory. Jim Harbaugh stored the intriguing expertise within the 49ers’ lineup after Alex Smith, who ended his shortened season with a 70% completion charge, returned from a midseason concussion. That selection proved appropriate, and Kaepernick pushed the 49ers to the cusp of a sixth title. After a four-TD exhibiting in a Foxborough win, Kaepernick mowed down the Packers through 444 complete yards and 4 TDs in a Spherical 2 masterpiece. He then led a 17-point NFC championship comeback in Atlanta. A controversial fourth-down go interference no-call stopped Kaepernick’s Tremendous Bowl XLVII rally from completion.


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2. Randall Cunningham, 1998

Randall Cunningham, 1998

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Regardless of Cunningham main the Vikings to a 1997 wild-card win, he was again on the bench behind Brad Johnson the subsequent yr. Johnson’s Week 2 damaged leg opened the door for a surprising salvo from his just lately unretired backup. Cunningham capitalized on Randy Moss’ otherworldly NFL introduction, whereas doing lots to allow the Corridor of Famer’s dynamic entrance, and threw 34 TD passes. Cunningham, Moss, Cris Carter, and Robert Smith torched defenses, en path to the Vikings setting a single-season scoring document. This marked the ex-Eagle scrambler’s defining aerial season, and though it ended with a Falcons upset, the ’98 slate added a key chapter to Cunningham’s profession.


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1. Kurt Warner, 1999

Kurt Warner, 1999

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Outfitted with a equally potent solid, Warner one-upped Cunningham a yr later. However the out-of-nowhere Rams success story laps nearly all the pieces for NFL shock worth. Though Warner began 16 video games, the Area League import spent the offseason getting ready to be Trent Inexperienced’s backup. Rodney Harrison’s low hit on Inexperienced within the preseason introduced in Warner, who threw 41 TD passes on his solution to runaway MVP acclaim. He added eight extra TD tosses within the playoffs, with the Rams silencing skeptics a couple of pleasant schedule. This Tremendous Bowl run turned the defining stretch for Corridor of Famers Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and sure Corridor of Famer Torry Holt. Warner enabled it.

Sam Robinson is a Kansas Metropolis, Mo.-based author who principally writes concerning the NFL. He has lined sports activities for almost 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations that includes feminine rock protagonists are a few of his go-tos. Often attention-grabbing tweets @SRobinson25.

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